The Little Writer Who Could (And Did)

There once was a writer who felt she couldn’t do anything. She had no books published. She had no projects finished that could even come close. She didn’t have very many ideas, and all the thoughts she had never came out quite right on screen or paper. She had very little time to even practice, but whenever she could, she did. As minutes and hours ticked away, you could see her. Writing, writing, writing. But whatever became of it?

Have you, dear writers, ever felt this way? I sure have. But let me tell you something. You can do it. You can write something. You can finish something. You can publish something. You can be an author. How do I know this? Well, have you ever heard of the “Little Engine that Could”? That old kid’s story? About the impossible load, up the insurmountable distance, pulled by the scrawniest, smallest, most incapable engine in the yard? Yep, that one. And do you remember what that little engine kept thinking as he chug-chug-chugged on and on, up and up? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. On and on, up and up he went, thinking he could. He could. He could. And you know what?

He did.

Often as writers we get caught in the proverbial trainyard. We keep thinking, round and round in circles. All my ideas just amount to nothing. I can’t finish anything. Nothing sounds right. It took me an hour just to write one paragraph. That person already has something published! I’ve been writing for years, and nothing’s ever come of it. I just can’t do it. Why am I even trying anymore?

Well, I’ve got some news for you. You’re not alone, cause I’ve been there too. I had over ten different stories, from near finished to a few scrawny sentences over the course of at least five years, before I struck something that worked. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you factor in the time it took to formulate the ideas-letting them bubble and mature into something, working out any and all kinks, writing character profiles and short stories… well, it adds up. Two of them I look back on particularly.

One was a fanfiction. I look back on it now with a cringe, but yep, I wrote a fanfiction. It was going to be an epic of over seven different books, not to mention all the branch offs, and soon, I would become the fanfiction queen of my fandom. To cut the story short, I didn’t. I wrote up to chapter 30 in the book before I dropped off. 30 chapters of work, gone down the drain just like that.

Another was a book about sentient robots, a Spanish tinkerer and a Japanese cyborg ninja all wrapped up in a junkyard in Texas. Yes, I put all those things together. Why I thought that was a good idea? I don’t know. But I did. For almost a year I worked on this world, fleshing out characters through short stories, roleplaying, and filling in character sheets. I remember specifically sitting in a rental house on the beach, tapping away at my keyboard as the main characters rushed a robotics factory in Japan to steal stuff (do not ask how they got all the way over there without teleporters). In the end I only wrote five chapters of the first book… And I don’t think I ever even fully finished the fifth one.

Was it a waste of time?

No.

Why?

Because I worked hard on those stories. No matter how embarrassing it is looking back, no matter how much time I sometimes feel I lost that could’ve been used for other better ideas, I did not waste my efforts. Even if those stories will never see the light of day again, it was worthwhile for the simplest reason in the world: I wouldn’t have been the writer I am without them. A wise Jedi once said “Failure is our greatest teacher,” and so it was and still is with me, a puffing, slow moving, a paragraph an hour writer. Because I had that practice, I learned how to write better. I learned how to formulate better characters, how to develop better plots, and how to weave better quality writing into the plain of my story. Yes, it took a while, but good things often do. There are few things worthwhile in life, whether writing or not, that don’t require sleep, sweat, and a lot of elbow grease.

And in the end, I’m glad that I kept going. I kept huffing and puffing, dragging that load thinking “I think I can I think I can I think I can,” not just because it was something I knew I wanted to do, but something I knew my King made me to do.

And if you think I can wade through the quagmire to a firm ground to stand on, don’t kid yourself. I’m still not much better off. It still took me a little under a year to write my current project, and I’ve still got another year or two ahead of editing before I can even begin to look at publishing. But I still smile because I know, beyond this pass, above the peak, my little ditty will go from ‘I think’, to ‘I know’, to ‘I have’.

So, just remember friends. We’re all little writers who could.

And can.

This was Our Pact Review

Six kids. Six bikes. A river of mystical lanterns. And an endless road ahead…

The graphic novel This was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews at first glance, and actually every peep, poke, and prod, is an eye grabber. Set against a sprawling backdrop of stars, five kids forge a pact on the eve of the autumn equinox festival to follow the celebratory paper lanterns down the river, just to find the answer to the mystery of the equinox lanterns. And no one turns back. Where do they really go?

Why You Should Read

Ryan Andrew’s graphic novel is, quite simply, brilliant. Shining like a star, his Japanese style of art can only be described one way: whimsical. I couldn’t tear myself away from the starlit paths, the fantastic creatures, or the two main characters, Ben and Nathaniel. It has all the epic escapism of a classic journey across lands and time, but the eccentricity of a modern fairy tale. I have rarely seen a graphic novel come close to the beauty of this one.

The two cycling boys, Ben and Nathaniel have a very interesting relationship. Though not exactly friends, they grow throughout the story into something with a bond deeper than any promise or pact. While Ben isn’t always kind or loving, Nathaniel is always filled with joy, ready for every new bend in the road, whether it be a strangely sophisticated talking fisher bear or sailing across a sea-sized lake in a giant basket. He shows a loyalty and, quite frankly, humility to Ben’s near persistent put-offs, staying a friend, even if the courtesy isn’t always returned.

Meanwhile, Ben, though a bit rough around the edges, does grow into a positive character, showing how we can overcome peer pressure prejudices to love others, even if they are utterly strange and hairy (such as a sophisticated fisher bear) or just a tad bit on the quirky side.

Content Warnings

There is some mild language, use of God’s name in vain, unspoken magical occurrences (such as a secret village, harvest moon people, and plenty of wacky creatures) and alchemy. Ben also has a deep distrust of Nathaniel for no other reason except that he’s an outsider, or a ‘nerd’ to the circle of boys he’s been drawn into. The as-before-mentioned other boys exhibit typical schoolroom exclusion toward Nathaniel, though Ben does learn throughout the story there’s more to Nathaniel than he first thought.

Is It Shelf-Worthy?

This one is a shining yes. I absolutely adored Ben and Nathaniel’s vividly illustrated journey to discover the secret of the Equinox lanterns, no matter what the winding road brought (and let me tell you, it brought some wackiness their way). The characters were highly memorable, though some don’t even receive names. Creatures and celebrations of all kinds commemorate the coming of the harvest spring like water from the pages all along the trail of the lanterns that the boys journey till the very satisfying end. So dear readers, if you’re looking for a graphic novel to collapse with on a rainy day, This was Our Pact is a north star in the sky of graphic novelty, worth sighting from miles away, whether from your library or just step away on your own shelves. 

Fifteen Review

Welcome to my first ever poetry review! This is my first time ever finishing a full poetry book (in fact, it’s one of the few poetry books I own). However, as I’ve said before, it’s good to expand your reading. So, without  further ado, read on, dearest reader, read on!

Fifteen is a YA poetry compilation by Amie Woleslagle, set to release this October. I know what you’re thinking. How the heck did I get to read it? Well, I might have been able to get an advance copy to review especially for my friend and fellow writer (I know, I have super fancy writer-to-writer connections).

I’m glad I did too. While I enjoy reading poetry, I don’t often read it because of its tendency to be difficult to swallow or void of the storytelling merits a typical novel contains. But this compilation is different. Not only is the poetry easier than Emily Dickinson or Jackie Hill Perry, it is, in a way, a memoir in verse. Amie shares her hardships and struggles as a fifteen year old girl in an often overbearing, scary, dark world, which, in the end, becomes one of light and hope.

Why You Should Read

First off, this book is a combination of two of my specialties — poetry and art. This is unique enough to mention because it is something I often don’t see in the writing world. The pages practically burst with vivid color illustrations depicting every single poem. Instead of having only decorative elements, proverbial hangings to go side by side with the words, the pieces become a part of a poetic story of desperation, longing, and hope. They become part of the book. In other words, they give a life to the words that wouldn’t have existed without them.

The poetry itself is seeped with worth and longing. Amie’s prose isn’t extravagant, nor vague. It is a down to earth, plain presumption of vivid emotion, all portrayed in the mind and life of a typical teenage girl. You follow her along a journey of struggle, through depression, anxiety, and mental illness towards hopeful longings at the end, like a little shaft of light in a bottomless pit.

But of course, the difficulty with reading a poetry compilation is that there’s always one that hits hardest, that for some reason or another you just love the most. One of my personal favorites is Freak Show. Here’s the poem sampled from the book to savor:

Welcome to my freak show

Where creatures untold

Deliver horrors yet unknown.

Devils darker than tales of time

Take time to deliver a gold mine

Of talents to the holy shrine.

Welcome to my freak show,

Everyone ought to know

That these talents are unwillingly bestowed.

Time spent to perfect the craft

Some threaten to abandon the raft

But to my cause their souls are lashed.

Songs sung in a mirror key,

Bodies changing to fit and agree

All because they want to be free.

Free from my freak show.

What strikes me so much here is Amie’s authenticity, which is carried throughout every single one of these little gems. As a writer myself, as well as an artist, it is unbelievably hard to constantly be under scrutiny, even from oneself, not just others. Molding our talents to be good enough to our standards as well as others, forever looking critically at whatever we do, facing criticism from outside forces, all while trying to offer up our meager morsels to the Lord… It’s a hard river to boat. Which is why this touched me so. And remember:

This is just a sampling.

Content Warnings

This is a recount of the author’s life struggles. So be aware there is talk of depression, anxiety about life and living up to appearances, insomnia, betrayal, loss, negative self-worth, as well as mental and physical health. If any of those things are triggers for you, I’d advise reading with caution.

Is it Shelf-Worthy?

This is an undeniable yes. Amie Woleslagle has created a glorious compilation to adorn any shelf. I’d personally recommend this to preteen and teenage girls. This is a call to girls by a girl, screaming that while darkness is looming, there is always hope. This is the perfect introduction to poetry for young readers looking for a relatable perspective that mirrors their life in such a familiar and relatable way. Read it. Read it again. Then again. And see the glory of God’s goodness pouring through from Amie’s heart to yours.

(P.S. If your participating in Amie‘s scavenger word hunt, the word is Doesn’t. Have fun!)

What a Pen and an October Event did for Me (As an Artist)

Hello friends, neighbors, stalkers, and countrymen!

Mostly as of late I’ve been blogging about books. (Books are pretty great though, aren’t they?) But I’ve completely forgotten my second love; Art! I’ve loved art ever since I was a little kid with pigtails and only some crayons and a stack of printer paper. Since then I’ve grown, through failure and toil, into a fantastic artist with a love for illustrating people, places, and God’s creation all around. It’s been a wonderful, if not stress inducing, self-criticizing, tea-addicted ride.

And guess what? In the art world, every year the leaves begin to burn orange or red or bumblebee yellow, there’s this little itty bitty event that comes around called Inktober. Every day in October artists of all kinds, stations, and placements in their artistic journey pick up a pen, digital pencil, or even a quill and sketch, paint, doodle, and draw 31 different amazing pieces of art based off a daily prompt word.

I never knew about this until by chance last year. And, from artist to artist (I know everyone is an artist at heart!) I need to tell you this; It’s one of the best things that could ever happen to you. Inktober for me was a huge stretch, since I had to balance college classes, writing, and drawing a concise piece of art every single day. Some days, I didn’t even finish my art. (And I basically took a month-long break from writing too)

Example of my Inktober art from last year.

But what happened was better than I could’ve ever imagined; I learned. Because I disciplined myself everyday to draw a picture, I not only learned what didn’t work (Always make sure you chose the right paper for what medium your using) but I learned what did work. I learned what I liked to draw, and what I don’t like to draw. (I hate doing motion, movement, and expressions. For some reason it’s just harder) I learned what I like to work with, and what I don’t like to work with.  You cannot learn without doing. (I’m sure someone has said something like this before) This is true for everything. You cannot learn to walk without falling down a few times, you cannot learn to bake without burning a few cakes along the way, and you cannot make a masterpiece without first making the mess-terpiece. Is it worth it? To go from mess-terpiece to masterpieces? Even if you ruin a few projects along the way? I’d say yes everytime.

Okay, back to Inktober. October is just around the corner, so that means I’m going to start all over again. Just like last year, I’m going to stretch myself. I bought real ink (Yes, real calligraphy pen that you dip into the ink) and I have a digital software program as well called Procreate. (If you ever want to get into digital painting/art, buy this app! It’s fantastic!) I’m also going to draw some things I don’t usually draw. (Ugh, motion) Most important of all, I’m going to draw every single prompt. Yep, all 31. And, to raise the stakes, there’ll be a reward. If I finish every single prompt by November 1st, I’m going to get a brand new book, chosen by you readers!

If you want to tune into my art journey this October, vote on an awesome book (Which I’ll probably review here) or just look at some fun pictures, go check out my Instagram, olivialovesbooks!

So, whether you’re a veteran artist or even just a classroom doodler, I encourage you to give this a try with me. Give something new—something that stretches you – a go. You might just like where it takes you.

Dreamtreaders Review

Dreamtreaders, by Wayne Thomas Batson, is a middle grade/young adult fantasy following Archer Keaton, a run-of-the-mill highschooler trying to live his life and get through the briarous tangles of friendship and pop quizzes. Or so it seems. But Archer has a secret. He is one of the Dreamtreaders, chosen by the angels of the Lord to fight the dark lord of the land of dreams. 

My mom bought me this book as a Christmas present years back, and (I admit) it took me more than a mile to get around to reading. I liked the idea of the story. A real world and a dream world that was just as real, yet even more deadly intrigued me greatly. But the deeper I delved into this dream, the more I discovered it was just a mirage that I wished were true. And I’ll tell you why (I mean you’re here, aren’t you?)

Why This Book Fell Short

I’ll break it up by elements of the story. First off, the characters of Dreamtreaders were alright, and just alright. The characters fighting for the side of goodness and truth were fine. The main protagonist Archer wasn’t that interesting, like a sad little pancake without syrup. His sidekick, a talking squirrel with a flare for fashion (How does that not sound fun?), was much more loveable to me than the real stars of the show, who, in truth, were more busy collapsing in on themselves like nebulas. Looking back, the reason I found Archer so disengaging was simply because he had no personality. He had no hobbies (Though then again, spending every night fighting monsters is a hobby in itself), no real passion, no real reason for doing anything he did in the slightest. And this was true for most of the characters, not just the main one.

The dark lord was boring. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against dark lords, war mongers, and the like. Sometimes I’m okay with dark lords. Some complain that they’re overdone, while some people can’t get enough of the epic struggle against an evil foe. I take both routes. Some really do lust after power (Take Hitler or your current politician, for example). In fact, in a way, we all do. I know I’ve savored my might over my siblings when my parents are gone for dinner. (And come on, if you’ve had siblings, you know what I’m talking about). But having no other reason behind being a dark lord, just to be bad because you need a bad character is kind of lazy. Even in the Lord of the Rings series, Tolkien sets up Sauron as being evil because he was deceived by Melkor, and wouldn’t later repent out of shame and became ensnared in his own actions, unable to turn back to the life he’d once led in the service of the Valar because of pride and lust for his own glory (Read the Silmarillion guys. It’s a work of art)

This dark lord, however, is just that: dark. The reason why he is doing what he does, except that he’s evil and that’s that, is shrouded, and kept so till the closing of the pages. The other villians of this stock fall into the same category. They aren’t engaging, or memorable enough for me to even look at them in a comical way. So the author here does have some characterization (Such as fashionista squirrels and British baddies), but I’m afraid it wasn’t enough.

The writing itself is okay, but it definitely needs work. Over a year later, I still remember one of the lines of dialogue. Here it is:

“A bit of advice, Kara Windchil,” he said. “If you’re going to sneak around, try not to be so beautiful.”

That’s literally what was said. No joke, this is a direct quote.

As far as dialogue goes, this is by far the worst bit of talking and flirting I’ve ever read or heard, and that includes anything I’ve ever said or written. Which is a point in itself.

How This Book Redeemed Itself

However, the plot was undeniably interesting. I didn’t see the gasp-producing, turn the corner oh-no moments until they were upon me, which I compliment the author for doing. It’s hard to produce a story where the plot is thick enough, with twists and turns and rabbit trails (Think warm thick gravy compared to something like running dishwater. Who wants that, right?).

Finally, the setting was inarguably interesting. I found it sparkling then, reading about the dream realm the author created, packed with characters and a magical system that worked all on its own apart from the world we live and breathe in, and still do (Though in my arrogance I can think of plenty of ideas to make it better). I wish the author had spent more time diving into this as well as his character. Then his work would’ve been so much better to read, nearly flawless (Barring that shudder inducing dialogue).

Content Warnings

Other than really bad dialogue, some characters do die, and there is plenty of violence, and betrayal.

Conclusion

So, awake or asleep you’ll get the same answer from me on this novel. To me, this book didn’t fail for lack of ideas and creativity, but lack of skill. The author in my opinion hadn’t developed his craft enough at his point in writing to fully enrich this book to make it what it could have been. If he had labored more over his characters and writing, this could’ve been a real winner. Unfortunately, he didn’t. And I’m left wishing for more.

Fall Semester Reading List

Let’s face it. Reading is hard when you’ve got papers to write, flashcards to review, and quizzes to prepare for. But, as with everything important, I’m making time in my schedule to read as many good books as I can. So, without further ado, here’s my list for this fall!

1) The Beast Warrior by Naoko Uehashi

This is one I’ve been stoked to read for, well, a year! I read the first of this series, the Beast Player, during my last fall semester. And let me tell you, it was more spectacular than I could’ve ever imagined. The plot of the bestselling Japanese series follows Elin, the daughter of a Toda caretaker and mysterious people of the mist and mountains as she navigates life while forging a friendship with a Royal Beast (Which basically look like giant wolves with wings!). Other than that, there were some really nice positive points to the series, including a love and care for God’s creation, sticking to your beliefs, and fantastic worldbuilding to boot. Without a doubt, I’m beyond ready to curl up with my little beast to read this sequel.

2) Here in the Real World by Sarah Pennypacker

I bought this book this summer and never got around to reading it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not stoked to open the pages. This one is about a boy who nearly fancies himself a knight as he chivalrously defends an abandoned church AKA his round table with the help of his grouchy companion from the forces of evil during a less than fun summer camp. I picked this up because, well, first off I was excited to read a book with a main character struggling with some of the same difficulties I do (I was giggling as soon as I read “Meaningful social Interaction” on the inside flap). I also read Pax last year by Pennypacker and it was exquisite: so, why not?

3) Dust by Kara Swanson

Dust is a Peter Pan retelling that has been making its way up the Amazon Best Seller’s list in the Young Adult section. I was drawn in by this book by my excitement to read writing by a fellow young writer and, well the cover is just gorgeous, am I right? I’ve also been a bit of a sceptic of the fairy tale retelling genre for a while for no good reason, so Dust seemed a good place to start in my hope of remedying that (Plus, did I mention I was a big Peter Pan nerd when I was little?)

4) Watership Down by Richard Adams

Now this is a classic I’ve heard mentioned over and over before, so much so I just broke down a bought it. After reading the Green Ember series, this felt like a next right step- or rather, hop in the right direction. I’ve heard at the same time though, the book is heartbreaking, so I’ll bee keeping some tissues and chocolate by my side while reading.

5) Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign is about a girl who loves words. And not just any words. Only homonyms, such as rose, like her name, or rain, like her dog. Not many people understand her eccentrics, including her father, so when Rain goes missing in the midst of a terrible storm, Rose will do anything to find and rescue her one and only friend. I was grabbed by this book because of it’s showcasing an autistic main character. There aren’t many books I’ve read that do, and often, they aren’t written well even when you find one. Me and Rose also have a lot of similarities besides (A love of words and an attachment to our dogs). I really hope that this time I read, I’ll find a girl reigning over her own little story world, not just another cardboard cutout of a character.

6) North! Or be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

I just officially read the first book in the Wingfeather saga late this summer. In short, it was fantastic, goofy and action packed beyond my imagination. It’s a little more adventure/action-oriented than I’m used to, but I can’t deny the quality of the work and, hands down, the fun of it! (Read the introduction of the first book and then try to tell me how not-hilarious it is) I can’t wait to find out what happens in this one as the Igiby children travel to the north through peril and even the dreaded fork factory…

7) A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

This one I picked up by a mere incident in my local bookstore. A Study in Charlotte is a modern Sherlock Holmes retelling, one of my favorite classic mystery adventure tales (Though Murder on the Orient Express is pretty close). It follows Jamie Watson as he contends with the great great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte Holmes as they try to uncover a murderer before they are caught – as the murderers themselves. The synopsis and the cover were so gripping I couldn’t help but give it a try. So, who knows? Maybe this one will be a keeper right beside my other Sherlock Holmes tales such as the Sign of the Four and a Study in Scarlet.

8) Homecoming by Cynthia Vogt

This book grabbed my attention, as all books involving orphans, abandoned children, and foster children have after my experiences with the foster system with my siblings. Homecoming follows the oldest of four kids, Dicey, as she struggles to keep her brothers and sisters fed, warm, safe, and together after their mom up and abandons them in a strange town in a mall parking lot. As a bestseller and near national book award winner, I think I made a good bet with this one, even if I’ll be crying during all the lows of this heart-moving family scramble for survival- and homecoming.

9) Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

I’ve been wanting more and more to dig into non-fiction, not just because I want to, but because I want to feed my mind as well as my body and spirit. Don’t Waste Your Life seemed like the right place to start after Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris (Also an astounding read!) especially since I’ve been feeling the grief of wasting my time, but not knowing how to use it for God’s glory (Or rather, not having the energy to…). I’ve heard great things about this book, and am excited to dive in and find out how to not waste my life- and use it for God’s greater glory (Amen!).

There you have it, my official reading list for this semester! Considering all the school reading I have to do, this list isn’t exactly complete. But that’s the great thing about reading! There’s so much out there to choose from, a great ocean of reading just waiting to be explored by adventurous readers like you and me.

So, what are you reading this semester? Tell me below, and thanks for reading!

Why Reading Well is so Important

Reading is probably one of the most profitable pastimes for us human beings. With reading, you can both learn and enjoy in the same moment. (*gasps* You can learn and have fun at the same time? Yes, kids, you can) When reading, new possibilities, experiences, and worlds open up in front of your eyes. We readers when unfurling those paper pages can walk the paths of people like and unlike us, learning and growing without even leaving our armchairs. (And here I’m beginning to gush already.)

Yet, even reading can be perverted with the stench of foulness, lies, and wasted time. Yes, unfortunately, there is such a thing as a bad book. I know because I’ve read them, whole mires of them. And I’ve regretted the wasted time and the bitter taste like spoiled milk they leave. But, they’ve taught be something important: the philosophy of reading well. So, dearest reader, pay heed and read from little ol’ me why it is important to not only challenge your reading, but to do well with what you read.

Good Reading Challenges You

Challenges are hard–we all know it. It’s particularly easy to slide back into books we used to read–the ones that were simple and easy. But that’s not God’s plan for us as human beings. He made us to be stretched, like canvas, to be molded and shaped and grown beyond what we are in the moment. When we divert to those old books we used to read, not once or twice, but over and over, we are denying the challenge of the life He has made for us to go farther than we could’ve ever dreamed. So, stretch yourself. Pick up a book you wouldn’t normally read, or something you know is hard. And read it.

Good Reading Helps You Learn and Grow.

When you read things that are hard, or that even aren’t your go-to YA authors, you are watering seeds deep inside your heart, soul, and mind. Deep, deep down, they’ll begin to grow with each new word or concept that boggles your brain, or even just a sentence you have to read over so many times you want to throw the blasted thing through the open window. (Yes, we’ve all been there.) And all this is taking place, unbeknownst to you, dear reader, as you read.

Just think. You can learn anything from a book. You can learn the mysteries of the microbe, what happens when you mix iodine with liquid nitrogen (probably nothing good–please don’t go try that), how to fix a car, what types of wood work best when building a treehouse, how to win a negotiation with diplomats around the world (Or just between your rowdy siblings), see the world through another’s eyes that walked a different world hundreds of years ago,  or even how to be a better friend. And it doesn’t end there. There are a gazillion possibilities in His possible world. You just have to open the pages of a new, and challenging, book.

Books are Brain Food- Be Careful What You Put In

Books, in a way, are food for your brain. What you put in, as the saying goes, will come out, whether that be green beans and spinach, or pizza and candy. So, when reading, it’s important to consider your “reading diet.” Sound strange? Well, it is. Annoying maybe? Well, yes, most likely. But think of it this way. If you spend your life reading works from great authors, such as Plutarch, Lincoln, and others,–or even a well done novel from today–you’re going to become a better thinker, a better speaker, or a better judge of good fiction. And if all you put in is junky YA romances, with shallow characters and nothing to gather, that’s all your life will ever be, shallow, and without substance to stand on. Consciously, we must choose. Will we choose to take care of our minds with the books we read, or not?

These reasons above are beyond enough to not only challenge your reading, but to take up the challenge to read well. There’s a whole world of things to discover and learn and flourish in. All you need is a library card. And a mind to sniff out the bad books from the good. 

Becoming Mrs. Lewis Review

Welcome to my first ever book review!

If you don’t know, I like to do things a little differently than other book readers. 

I love good books.

And I don’t waste my time (I mean, who isn’t the least bit annoyed with a sub-par climax?)

So with every book I post, every review I give is to the integrity of these principles; To recommend positive, worthwhile books that build readers up as well as entertain.  There are enough piles of kindling.  Let them read good books!  So without further ado, I give you dear reader my first review, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is obviously the go-to pick up for any budding or eccentric fan of the timeless works of Mr. C. S. Lewis.  As the title implies, it follows the life of Joy Davidman, an American atheist and ex-communist turned to Christ on the remarkable journey of friendship to marriage with her late husband.  Commuting across “the pond” the two couldn’t be more different, and alike.  Joy and Lewis alike pour themselves out to each other even as Joy’s health takes a turn and her marriage dives into decline.  Through pain, loss, separation, anxiety, doubt, and confusion, God plants the seeds for one of the most moving stories of love woman or man could ever discover.

Why You Should Read

I believe this story stands out primarily for its character strengths.  While Lewis is the calling card, Joy is the star of the book; And you sure won’t forget it.  Callahan shoves her readers headfirst into Joy’s whole world, from being a working mother in America struggling with her writing, to the shires of sprawling Oxford step by step with the great Narnian author, to her uncertain place as a woman in a man’s oppressive world.  You don’t just read about Mrs. Lewis; You are her.  You sit at her dinner table during the fights and troubles of her crumbling marriage.  You journey with her across the Great Atlantic to a new land, with only a bag and a letter from a dear friend.  You enjoy meat pies and sherry in hotels and English pubs.  You feel her desperate thoughts and bemoan her tragedies poured out in word and verse.  You cry.  You laugh.  You love with her.  Callahan does this appallingly excellent job of shining a completely new light on the woman Lewis fans often overlook, but never shall again.  Joy Davidman, mother, writer, poet, scholar, daughter of Christ… and wife of Clive Staples Lewis. 

However, this does not mean Lewis and others take a backseat.  Lewis himself takes on a whole new light as well, stepping down from the pedestal of revered author to a squat balding man with a book and a glittering smile.  Never have I in my readings of his works received such a stark and surprisingly human look at the bare life of the late Cambridge Professor. 

Scene/Atmosphere also play a very well done role in this book, never half baked or overdone.  But the chief final gem, just as prominent as Joy and Lewis, is the work the Great Lion preformed in both their lives.  His pawprints stain every page with his truth, goodness, beauty, and great roaring love.  This is worth reading if only to see how fully He takes hold in these words and pages to glorify His glorious mane-er, name (Too many Aslan references). 

Without a doubt this novel holds enough goodness to drown all of England. 

Content Warnings

Now don’t be fooled; Despite being fabulous this isn’t a book for children.  While Callahan is never obscene, there are descriptions of abuse, trauma, terminal illness, and swearing (American and British alike).  There is also plenty of romance, as well as mentions of sex and a spoonful of feminism.  Luckily Callahan never overdoes it.  She remembers to keep the woes and drama over easy, the side dish of the whole meal.  While Becoming Mrs. Lewis isn’t the perfect bedtime story, it is acceptable for teens and adults. 

Is it Shelf Worthy?

Undoubtably, indiscriminately YES.  This novel is a European diamond, cut and polished to shine Davidman’s and Lewis’s wonderful life story, and worth every pound or penny.  Lewis once said, “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  Well, I believe this is a strong candidate.  I’ll be returning our library’s copy and trekking to my local bookstore very soon for my own hardcover to read and cherish alongside the Chronicles of Narnia again and again, complete with a cup of tea and a delicious biscuit. 

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