blessed moments

blessed are these moments
which we breathe
a soul's-breadth of silence
a prayer


bookshelf love update {mini reviews}

I went into this reading challenge expecting to have a pile of unread books at the end, but miraculously, I've been reading an average of two books per week! Which means I have a fair chance of devouring all 12 books by March 22. Here's the list:

The Hills is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith
The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
Holding Up the Earth by Dianne E. Gray
Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen
Flying Changes by Sara Gruen
Grace at Low Tide by Beth Webb Hart
Blessed are the Meek by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
Valley of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

If you'd like to join me in the Bookshelf Love reading challenge, jump on over to the introductory post. And in case you missed it, you can view more details about my personal Bookshelf Love challenge here.

I have reviews planned (but not necessarily written...) for all four of the books I've already read as part of this challenge so far, but for now, here are the first two: Wild Magic and Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce. Judging by Goodreads, I somehow managed to get my hands on the least attractive covers. The upside: they match.

Wild Magic (The Immortals #1)
by Tamora Pierce

Young Daine's knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine's talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical. Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.
(from the back cover)

This was such a fun read! It's fast-paced without feeling rushed, and I found Daine easy to relate with. I enjoyed watching her friendships develop (Numair and Onua are wonderful characters), though some of the minor characters were difficult to keep straight at times. And due to the lack of quotation marks when Daine converses with animals, on a few occasions I wasn't entirely sure who said what. Speaking of animals, I love Daine's special abilities. It was so much fun seeing her relationships with different creatures and how she grew into her abilities throughout the book.

4/5 leaves

Wolf-Speaker (The Immortals #2)
by Tamora Pierce

When humans start cutting down trees an digging holes in peaceful Dunlath Valley, the wolves know that something is wrong. They send a messenger to the only human who will listen -- Daine, a fourteen-year-old girl with the unpredictable power of wild magic. Daine and her closest companions heed the wolves' cry for help. But the challenge they are about to face in the valley is greater than they can possibly imagine... (from the back cover)

I enjoyed this book every bit as much as the first one, and perhaps more -- it seemed better written, with the dialogue easier to follow and the characters easier to keep straight. It also included wonderful morals (you guys know I'm a sucker for good morals), fun new characters (many of them four-legged, but a few of the two-legged variety as well), and a dragon (everyone likes dragons, yes? of course they do.).

4/5 leaves


un-formatting the Bible {The Books of the Bible: New Testament}

The Books of the Bible is a fresh yet ancient presentation of Scripture. It strips away centuries of added formatting so you can read and enjoy the Bible. No more chapter and verse numbers. No more study notes. No more cross references or footnotes. No more red letters.

Form matters. When you experience God’s Word in a presentation that honors the original literary form, it can transform the way you read.

This is a Bible for those who want to get lost in the story.
(from Biblica.com)

I love my study Bible -- I like to read the notes at the bottom of the page when I have questions, without having to go searching through a separate reference book. I appreciate being able to find and reference specific passages according to their chapter and verse numbers. But, as the description above says, The Books of the Bible: New Testament is "for those who want to get lost in the story." And that is a beautiful thing.

The lack of chapter and verse numbers, absence of section headings, and single-column format made the text smoother to read -- like a novel --  and therefore easier to understand. Acts, for example, a book I hadn't before paid much attention to, suddenly became a fascinating story that held my interest as well as any fantasy novel. And the brief introduction at the beginning of each book provided context and helped make sense of the more confusing books, such as Revelations.

Even the order of the books is different, to aid in understanding and flow. Paul's letters, instead of longest to shortest, are presented in chronological order. Acts follows Luke, since they were originally two volumes of a single work, without John sitting in the middle. I love this. It is so much easier (and more enjoyable!) to read through the New Testament when it flows well.

While this book can be read in any time frame at any pace, my copy included a bookmark with a suggested eight-week reading plan that breaks the New Testament into manageable 15- to 20-minute chunks (about 12 pages). Naturally, I fell behind and took way longer than two months to work my way through it, but, for the most part, I kept to the suggested daily readings (there were just a few days in-between sometimes).

I'm still struggling my way through The One Year Bible, but I might try the full version of The Books of the Bible next. I have a hunch that the Old Testament might make a little more sense with a few numbers removed...

5/5 leaves!

Do you have a favorite version of the Bible? Have you ever read straight through the whole thing, or one of the two Testaments? How did you do it, and would you recommend that method? I've tried a few different ways, and I'm curious what you think!


bookshelf love {reading challenge}

If you are a bookworm, you most likely have something called a TBR (to-be-read) -- be it a shelf, a pile, or a room with a maze-like path through the teetering paperback forest -- and, if you're anything like me, books that have been on it for months or even years. And yet, we keep buying more books. And visiting the library. And ordering ARCs (advance review copies). And entering giveaways. The bookshelf starts feeling neglected, sitting untouched except perhaps to have more novels shoved into every little available crevice.

I propose we show those bookshelves some love.

The point of this challenge is to read books you already own, and possibly clear some space on those over-loaded shelves. Pick a stack of books from your TBR shelf and set a time frame to read them in. This can range from a small stack you'll devour in a matter of weeks to clearing the whole TBR by the end of the year. Regardless, any books that remain untouched at the end of your challenge get donated, sold, given away, or recycled, leaving more space for books you love or those inevitable bagfuls you'll bring home from that upcoming library sale. Getting rid of books is not a requirement of the challenge (note the "guidelines" below), but it certainly adds some incentive!

Feel free to join me for any length of time during the next seven weeks (Feb. 2 - Mar. 22), which is the span of my personal challenge, or set your own time frame as mentioned above. I'll keep adding to the participants list for as long as I have people signing up so that we can follow each others' progress and offer encouragement. Just provide your name and a link to your challenge post in the comments below, and I'll update the list. No blog? No worries! You can post your challenge and updates on any social media outlet.


1. choose a time frame for your challenge
2. select a stack of unread books from your shelves/piles/boxes/book hoard
3. post a photo and/or list of the books on your blog or social media, along with the chosen time frame
4. use the challenge image in your post (if posting on a blog) and link back to the original challenge page
5. leave a link to your post in the comments on the original challenge page, so you can be added to the list of participants
6. read, read, read!
7. donate, sell, giveaway, or recycle any books still unread at the end of the challenge

*I use this term, and not "rules," intentionally. Make this challenge your own! It is typically helpful to choose a time frame for a reading challenge, though, and no cheating on #2!!! If it causes too much stress or you just can't bear to part with your dearly beloved books, you can forego #7. I don't blame you -- if I had the space, I'd keep mine, too!


1. Serena (poetree) -- 7 weeks, 12 books (Feb. 2 - Mar. 22) & 14 weeks, 10 books (Sep. 19 - Dec. 25)
2. Raye (The Book Hoarder) -- 9 weeks, 25 books (Feb. 6 - May 10)
3. Heather (Worth Getting in Bed For) -- 16 weeks, 16 books (Feb. 7 - Jun. 7)
4. Serpent -- 4 months, 6 books (Feb. 23 - Jun.) & 10 months, 11 books (Feb. 23 - Dec.)
5. Candice (O Ye Scribes) -- 5 weeks, 7 books (May 30 - Jul. 11)
6. Nora (Reading Experiences with Nora) -- 20 books, Oct. 14 - Jan. 5

12 books, 7 weeks {bookshelf love}

In the very near future, my husband and I need to fit all of our belongings into a smallish car, and apparently I am (inconveniently) expected to include more than just books into this "all of our belongings" category. Believe it or not, the culling of the closet and dresser was much easier than that of the bookshelf. The "maybe" book pile became, naturally, a reading challenge. Because what if I get rid of my next favorite book and I never know, because it's gone?! So I have given myself until March 22 -- seven weeks -- to read 12 books, which is almost two books per week. I typically read one book every two weeks, so... you do the math.

If you have read my introductory post to the bookshelf love reading challenge, you already know what happens to the books I don't read by the end of week seven. It's a sad fact, but I've got to pare down the pile somehow, and despite two attempts at culling, the pile is still quite large. So, without further ado, I give you the "read it and/or leave it" stack.

The Hills is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith
The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
Holding Up the Earth by Dianne E. Gray
Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen
Flying Changes by Sara Gruen
Grace at Low Tide by Beth Webb Hart
Blessed are the Meek by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
Valley of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling
Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

Have your own TBR to tackle? Want to join me? Sign up here!