8.16.2017

how to increase your dragon hoard (of books)


It is an undeniable fact that bookwyrms love acquiring books. In fact, one might say that we're a bit obsessed, especially upon witnessing the magnetic pull that bookshops seem to have on us. But where are the best places to pick up a stack of reading material? Here are my favorites:

1. Local library Since I lack both money and space, I try to avoid accumulating too much stuff--including books. Besides, the library is a bookwyrm's dream: There are shelves and shelves of books to get lost in, and you can walk out the door with a stack as tall as your torso without spending a cent (assuming, of course, that you return things on time . . .).

If your library system doesn't have a book you want, you can always request that they buy it. Mine is pretty good about purchasing recommended books, and the person who recommends them gets first dibs on reading them.

2. Library sales Many libraries host an annual (or even more frequent!) book sale. This is a great place to get cheap books, and the money you spend there supports a good cause! (Which is, of course, keeping you and the rest of the community supplied with free books.) Some libraries even have a bag sale on the last day, meaning you can take home as many books as you can stuff into a grocery bag for five bucks.

3. Independent bookshops I love exploring all the nooks of a small bookshop--there are few places more magical and comforting. It's like going on an adventure and curling up next to a cozy fireplace all at once. And it's even more fun when you find that book you've been wanting for so long, or maybe that one you never knew you wanted (but you certainly do now!).

4. Powell's City of Books Imagine, if you will, a book store the size of an entire city block. This is what I walked into seven years ago during my first visit to Portand, Oregon, and it is every bit as incredible as it sounds. Powell's is technically an independent bookstore, but it really needs a category all its own. The City of Books contains thousands of used and new books, and even a rare book room.

I have made several serendipitous finds here, including the book that introduced me to Christian fantasy. I also once spent four hours scanning the endless shelves--the only reason I left was for lunch (only to discover later that they have a small cafe inside . . .). If you are unable to make the pilgrimage to the City of Books, Powell's does have an online store as well.

5. Better World Books This is by far my favorite place to buy books online. For every book purchased, Better World Books donates one to global literacy programs. They have a pretty good selection of used--and new--books, and a fabulous "Bargain Bin," where you can get used books for less than four bucks each. Hint: This is a great website for Christmas shopping.


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Where is your favorite place to acquire books? Do you wish you lived in a castle that is half library?






8.09.2017

question from a wren


























A little brown wren perches
on the stone wall
to ask me a question.

She cocks her head and
stares at me intently,
small dark eyes pleading.
"Chip, chip, chip,"
she spouts urgently,
but I cannot know the answer
if I don't understand the question

and flustered, she alights
and is gone
leaving me to ponder
the curious language of birds
and what a little brown wren
could possibly want from me.












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8.02.2017

untitled {a poem}


For every poem I write
there are ten that never touch paper
and they
are the most beautiful of all.








7.26.2017

beautiful defiance {a poem}


remember
that the world is beautiful
and that you live in it

flowers defy the pavement
by bursting through it
to bloom and dance

smile at them

and smile at the car that drives by
for you can hear birdsong
even above its unnatural roar








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I offer copyediting and proofreading services for everything from blogs to books!

7.11.2017

a voice {a poem}

Are you the Lorax? the trees asked
as I stood on a stump in their woods.

That is too great a title for me, I replied.

Is it? the wind whispered in my ear,
Can't you be a voice for those in need?



































6.13.2017

you can't be a Christian


Last fall, my husband and I went to Texas for a wedding, and while we were waiting for a train to take us back to the airport, an older gentleman engaged us in light conversation--where were we from, etc. When I explained that we were volunteering on a sustainable living homestead, he said cheerfully, "Oh, we have very different political views, then: I voted for Trump."

It took me a moment to catch up with him, not sure at first how he'd jumped from gardens to politics. However, I quickly realized that because I'd been talking about sustainability, he assumed that I also support abortion and gay marriage (two issues he brought up later in the discussion). Suffice it to say that he was not entirely correct, even if I do lean very far to the left. After deciphering his train of thought, I smiled and nodded, not wanting to get into a pointless debate with him. But he wasn't finished yet.

"I don't see how Democrats can be Christian," he said matter-of-factly. If he'd said, "I don't see how Christians can be Democrat," I might have let the comment slide. But he didn't. What I heard was not a jab at my political views, but a discrediting of my faith. He might as well have looked me in the eye and told me, "You can't be a Christian."


I pushed back, of course, and we quickly discovered that we interpret the Bible, especially Jesus' teachings, very differently. Finally, he decided to discredit me because of my age and lack of experience.

"I've read the Bible at least 35 times--I read through it every year," he said. So, obviously, I am wrong. I have to admit he had me for a second, as I do believe in respecting one's elders, and that they have much to teach us. I think I responded with something like, "That's a very good practice to have," and he looked very pleased with himself, like maybe he was gaining headway with this ignorant child.

But I was still angry. What about my parents, grandparents, teachers, professors, mentors, pastors? Were they wrong, too? Sure, he's lived longer than I have, but so have all of the people who have taught me in my short experience.

Our train arrived soon after, and we parted with a friendly "it was nice to meet you." To him, what had just transpired was a lively discussion--perhaps he'd intended to start it with his inflammatory comments--and I did not think any less of him as a person. Whatever his intentions, I don't believe he meant any harm. But he had awakened a fire within me.

Because I am young, are my opinions worth less? Because I lean a certain way politically, am I any less a Christian? No. The man at the train platform and I are both Christians, and our opinions carry the same weight. We both believe the other is wrong, and I don't think anything but God could change our minds, but that doesn't make either of us better than the other.

There's a hymn that says, "They will know we are Christians by our love." I don't care what your political slant is, or whether you interpret the New Testament the same way I do; when you meet someone, don't belittle them because they are different. Show them love. After all, that's what ties us all together, isn't it? "For God so loved the world . . ." and so should we.







6.06.2017

reflections from May {two poems}

may I learn to live
and be changed
yet remain the same
may my soul retain a light
at its center
and shine
a candle's flicker


















I sit and watch the birds
and listen
and remind myself of
who and what and Whose I am
A sparrow skips by
unaware, unafraid,
its claws skritching the gravel
and I smile






*******
Hello, friends! It's been a while. I took an unplanned but much-needed break as I made some big transitions in my life, and though I wasn't sure if I'd ever return to this blog, I began to miss it.
So here I am. And here you are.




3.15.2017

sugaring time {a poem}

steam fills the sugar house until the ceiling
is lost in a white haze
and the enticing aroma of maple
wafts out across the dormant gardens

as the sap winds its way through the pans
from clear and bubbling to golden and frothy
we stoke the raging inferno beneath it
and wait for it to reach the proper density
those brief moments when we open a valve
and syrup trickles out

we stand in the heat and the steam
talking and smelling and tasting
and can easily imagine
generations before us
doing the same






3.08.2017

the stream {a poem}

























the stream has been calling to me
in its calm, rushing voice from
the shallow gully it has patiently
worked into the wooded ground
with the snowmelt that swells it
year after year after decade

I think it wanted me to see
that the world had been transformed
from a soft, quiet landscape
that the snow and its magic
had receded to reveal once again
the earth and all its small miracles
a blank canvas replaced by
moss and wilted ferns startlingly green
against a muted leaf carpet

and trees once again dominate
this landscape of color
while the dancing stream loudly celebrates
its release from ice
in hopes that wandering feet will
wend their way through the inviting trunks
of brown and green and flaky paper
to find themselves at its meandering bank

and perhaps let fingers caress its surface,
recognize that it, too, is a part of the forest




3.01.2017

unwritten {a poem}

they tickle the fringes of my mind
whispering from somewhere deep
within my soul
feather-light words
not yet formed
pleading for entrance, for a pen
to give them shape
and yet they tease--
or perhaps they're just shy--
flitting out of reach
at any attempt to grasp their meaning
countless nameless poems
known only by my subconscious soul






2.22.2017

the wheel of heaven {a poem}

segmented branches of trees
against a backdrop of sky
shafts of sunlight
wafting smoke
crystalline frost
(receding with morning's fire)
a glimpse upward








2.15.2017

clay jar {a poem}

I am an empty vessel
a clay jar
and though the world tries to fill me
with greed and hate and pride
God has already planted within my soul
seeds of love and mercy and hope
my only task
to nurture them and
share the bountiful harvest
of the indescribable treasure
that is God's Light
with all whom I meet
though it may be but a smile
or a kind word
for it is through humble acts
that God changes the world

(2 Cor. 4:6-7)




2.08.2017

invasive species {a poem}

wal-mart is an invasive weed
dominating the landscape
like kudzu or autumn olive
choking out the native plants
one
by
one
slowly, almost irreversibly, marring
an entire ecosystem






2.01.2017

devouring and savoring {mini book reviews}

Earlier this month, I set my Goodreads goal to a humble 36 books, my intent being to read two novels and one work of nonfiction each month, and to savor every book. Evidently, I'm much better at devouring novels--though I seem to be savoring my current nonfiction book quite well, which I am still only partway through. I somehow managed to read six novels in the month of January, and since I loved nearly all of them, I wanted to share some brief thoughts on each one, in case you might enjoy them, too. (You may notice that I have only five listed here--I also read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I plan to dedicate an entire post to reviewing the HP series later on.)



Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds #4)
by Robin Hobb




This is a great conclusion to a great series. (If you haven't read the first three books, start here. And then read book two. And so on.) Lives are saved, lives are taken, and people learn to stand up for themselves, as well as for each other. I loved watching the characters grow and change and become themselves throughout this series. Blood of Dragons has fewer cliffhanger chapter endings and slightly less (non-graphic) sexual content than the previous three books, but it is still there. I highly recommend The Rain Wilds Chronicles!



4/5 leaves



Breed of Giants
by Joyce Stranger




Despite my small stature, I am hopelessly attracted to large things--books, trees, horses. . . . So there was no question when I found this small (ironically) novel about the largest horse breed as to whether I would buy it. It exceeded my expectations. Breed of Giants is a beautiful tribute to Shire horses and the people who keep this draft breed alive even in modern times. This clean, romance-free horse story for adults (yes, you read that right--feel free to do a happy dance) includes animal perspectives, such as that of Brock the badger, without anthropomorphizing, and the human characters are colorful yet realistic.


5/5 leaves



Castle Waiting (Volume I)
by Linda Medley




This serendipitous library find is perhaps the first graphic novel I've ever read. An omnibus, it attracted me with its immense size, green spine, and intriguing title. Inside, it contains a fun fantasy with nods to classic fairy tales, and yet the story itself is entirely unique. The equally unique characters are easy to empathize with--I can hardly begin to pick a favorite. Though I wouldn't categorize this book as religious fiction, Peace, being a nun, has a Christian theme to her tale. This squeaky-clean graphic novel does have a few mature scenes that might go over the heads of younger readers.


5/5 leaves



The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri




I enjoyed reading about the (fictional) experience of an Indian immigrant in the U.S.--the cultural contrasts, the very real emotions, the methods of coping in a place that is not home, the themes of family and loneliness. Ashima's story drew me into this novel, her unique perspective dominating the beginning. However, the book quickly switches to her son's point-of-view and remains there for most of the book, and I found his character bland and almost boring. I enjoyed the overarching story, and the ending was very good, but I just didn't click with the main protagonist.


2.5/5 leaves



Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)
by Rachel Hartman




This second book in the Seraphina duology about humans, dragons, and half-dragons, and their struggle to coexist--or not---is brilliantly and artfully woven together. Pieces fell into place as part of schemes I couldn't have imagined, though it all made perfect sense. There were also many grey areas; I found myself asking, Is the antagonist was really a villain, or a tragic victim of circumstance? Although I didn't at all like how the love-triangle was "solved," the ending of this novel was simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful.


4/5 leaves






1.25.2017

What does the Lord require of you? {a poem}

What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who Mourn,
for they will be Comforted.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness,
for they will be filled.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Pure in Heart,
for they will see God.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Peacemakers,
for they will be called Children of God.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who are Persecuted for Righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the Lord require of you?
He has shown you.
Do justice.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly with your God.

(from Matthew 5:3-10 and Micah 6:8)






1.18.2017

roots


When I introduced Poetry Thursday and reinstated Wordless Wednesday a few months ago, I realized that many of my readers didn't understand why my book blog is titled Poetree. The simple answer is this: Poetree was never intended to be a book blog. But that is what it has evolved into, and I have grown weary of it--weary of writing nonsense about things that don't matter, of showing off books that I've acquired and pictures that I've taken all of the sake of receiving praise and gaining ever more followers. This hobby has become a chore, another item to check off my too long to-do list, and so I took some time to re-evaluate.

My brainstorming session didn't last long, but I jotted down several lists with headings like purpose, content, post ideas, timing. . . . And then I wrote "Poetree" in the center of the page, and these five words emerged below it:

poetry
trees
musings
inspiration
passion

That is the heart of Poetree. I'm going back to the roots of this dear blog, though you won't be seeing the poem-a-day that began it (check out some of my earliest posts if you want to see what I mean). Going forward, I will use this space--every Wednesday--to share poetry, musings, inspiration, and, of course the occasional bookish post. Soul scribbles from the journey of life.






1.02.2017

(almost) success! {bookshelf love}


I almost completed my reading challenge before Christmas! I gave myself 14 weeks to read these 10 books, from September 19 to December 25, and I read nine of them--which, honestly, is more than I had expected to finish. Unfortunately, I've only written one review so far, so all titles except The Unexpected Dragon link to Goodreads.

Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop
The Unexpected Dragon by Mary Brown
Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
City of Dragons by Robin Hobb
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai




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Did you participate in any reading challenges in 2016? How did you do? What are your reading goals this year?