Category Archives: Book Blab

Author Jim Rubart is killing me!

Book of Days: A NovelI died and learned to live free in James L. Rubart’s recent suspense novel, Book of Days. You’ll have to read it yourself to see all of what I mean but let me tell you a little about the book.

Much like Frank Peretti’s, The Oath or Prophet, Rubart takes a spiritual concept and illustrates it in a compelling and fascinating story.

Cameron Vaux is plagued by the fear that he is loosing his mind to Alzheimer’s. His father is in advanced stages of the disease. Cameron is convinced that if he finds the Book of Days his dad talks about in a rare coherent conversation, he will be cured. He sets out on an adventure in a small town in central Oregon, filled with danger and romance. Cameron faces some of my own deepest fears, and yet, the story Rubart tells is full of hope and ultimately freedom.

I cried through the first two chapters, rallied for Cameron through the fast paced middle and celebrated in his victory at the end. This novel is a must read! I will always have a copy, or two, on my shelf.

Jessie Ann

For more on my biggest fear and my personal experience with Alzheimer’s see this previous post; Things I Can’t Talk About.

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Learning to write, featured writing instruction resource, and a lesson.

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

Please join me at my new web home JessieGunderson.com and don’t forget to like the Blog Schmog Facebook community HERE.

Learning the craft of fiction is sometimes a tricky and expensive business. But we are on a single income budget with a whole passel of kids to boot, so expensive and my own ambitions (no matter how noble) don’t go together.

That’s why Amazon, the library, and author/agent blogs where the craft of writing it taught and discussed are places I like to frequent.

Although, the howling toddler flopping at my feet as I attempt to type this quick post is making me reconsider the other options; check into a loony bin, fly to the moon….

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is a hand-me-down book from an author friend of mine. But don’t let my worn copy deceive you. It is well-loved! This is a great instructional resource to keep and refer back to.

Each chapter addresses a topic aimed at “staying out of the rejection pile” with examples of errors, ways to fix trouble spots and then ends with a lesson to apply to your own work in progress. From presentation to dialogue and on to more advanced techniques like pacing, this is an invaluable resource. It also happens to be concise and chapters move along quickly so you can learn a lot in a short amount of time especially if you apply the end of chapter lessons.

Your Mission #1: Here is a lesson from my reading that I enjoyed. Join me if you like by leaving your “homework” in the comments below or on a blog post and linking back.

Lesson from the chapter on setting:

Lukeman challenges writers to train themselves to be attentive to their surroundings, and by learning to better observe, infuse richer settings in their writing. Find ten unusual details in the room you are in and write them down. It doesn’t matter how small. Then see if you can convey a feeling or leave an intentional impression about the setting using these details.

Here’s mine:

  1.  Dust clung to the blades of the fan.
  2. A candle tipped out of rank on a wall sconce of otherwise tidy, crimson candles.
  3. Laundry spilled out of the hamper, slumped like an old man, weary and tired.
  4. Neatly stacked books occupied every flat surface, holding up random wads of this and that.
  5. A well-loved quilt was spread over the stilted log bed.
  6. Pages from Parents Magazine littered the floor.
  7. A white scratch marred the wall painted with midnight forest green.
  8. Grandmother’s old rugs made a cozy place for feet to land on the hardwood floor.
  9. The faint smell of heated rice and lavender filled the small space.
  10. A lone wooden block lay abandoned in the corner.

Your Mission #2: What can you gather from my surroundings?

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Local LoneStar – The Legend of LoneStar Bear

Product Details Product Details Product Details 

The Legend of Lonestar Bear by Remi Kramer

Former hollywood director, Remi Kramer wrote and illustrated the trilogy of Lonestar Bear after moving to Idaho.  The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are enjoyable for kids and parents alike.

Mom: Tell me about Lonestar Bear

Captain Obvious: Those are AWESOME. He fishes.

Mom: What else do you like about the books?

Captain Obvious:  It is a bear that talks.

Mom: Does he have lots of adventures.

Captain Obvious: Yes, he flies on a plane.

Mom: Anything else?

Captain Obvious: Oh and one more thing. I like it because Aliens come to him.

These books are great for boys.  A hometown bear is an unlikely hero.  He resides in the Idaho mountians and has many great adventures at home and while traveling.  These three books are some of my Thinglets favorites and thankfully a favorite of mine as well.

Find what books other kids have enjoyed (and don’t forget to link up) at 5 Minutes for Books  Kids’ Picks carnival the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

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Oodles of Books – What’s on your nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand 

Someone asked me this week how I manage to read so many books at once and not get lost. Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe I’m a bit off. 🙂 The best answer I have is that each is in a different genre and therefore different enough that it is easy to keep track. I mean whose gonna confuse the creepy villan (or villans depending on how you look at it) in Dekker and Peretti’s “House” with the sultry pirate wench whom God-fearing hero, Dajon Waite loves in M.L. Tyndall’s “The Red Siren”?

So on my nightstand this month are, as always, oodles of books.

Just finished:

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall – a surprising romance filled with themes of struggle, triumph, forgiveness and God’s provision even for those who do not always follow Him.

The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg – a political thriller and New York Times best seller. The first of his “The Last Days” series about end times prophecy.

A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher – Historical fiction set in my own home state, about a sassy, single woman Gwen Arlington who runs for mayor and her handsome opposing candidate, Morgan McKinley whose political aspirations seem completely self serving.

Still Reading:

House by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti – a mind bending thriller by two of the nation’s top Christian authors.  I started reading this novel as a ministry to a bedridden neighbor. Please pray for the Doctor. He has developed pneumonia and I haven’t been able to see him for weeks. If you missed God’s harebrained plan for my friend click here.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass – Nonfiction text on the craft of writing. Extremely helpful! The ideas in this reference have pushed me to think more about sharing my stories because I’ve now got the tools to market along with my passion to tell stories.

Experiencing God – Bible study workbook about knowing the will of God and understanding His purpose for your life.

Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins – The queen of suspense spins yet another creepy tale of crime and human depravity, while all throughout weaving God’s power and presence. I’m having a hard time finishing this one because of the spiritual warfare that is involved. Not a problem for me necessarily I just can’t read it at night and that’s about the only time I can find to read. 🙂

What are you reading?

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Legend of the Three Trees

Please join me at my new web home JessieGunderson.com and don’t forget to like the Blog Schmog Facebook community HERE.

Some of you were wondering what this mosaic on my kitchen floor is all about.

The Legend of the Three Trees is a folklore story of unknown origin. My favorite picture book version is HERE.

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale

The story is retold by Angela Elwell Hunt and beautifully illustrated by Tim Jonke. It is a Christmas classic but we keep it out year round.

Below is Thing One’s retelling of the legend un-edited.

A long time ago there was three trees. The first tree wanted to be a treasure chest and hold the greatest treasure. The second tree wanted to be a ship and made for just kings. And the third tree wanted to stay on the top of the hill and point up to God.

Many years had passed by. Then after a few days three woodcutters came and the first woodcutter cut down the first little tree. The second woodcutter cut down the second tree. The thrid woodcutter said, “I will cut down whatever tree I want to. This is the one I’m going to cut.”

The first tree got tooken to a carpenter. The carpenter turned the tree into a manger for animals to eat out of.

The second tree was tooken to a ship yard and no big ships were getting made that day. Instead tiny fishing boats. Every day he brought in loads of dead smelly fish across the lake.

The third tree was confused when she got cut into straight square logs. She stayed there for a very long time. Then she got carried by a man and she felt ugly when they nailed his  hands to her.

The first tree got to be a manger and hold the greatest treasure of all. That was Jesus.

The second tree got to be a sailboat and hold the greatest king of all that was powerful. He got to see Jesus stop the storm when he woke up.

The third tree got to be carried by Jesus and forever remind people of God. That was better than staying on the mountain.

THE END

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Do you Kindle?

I’m never been one to jump on band wagons. And I’m NEVER the first of my friends with the latest gadget. But lately the Kindle has peaked my interest. I have to admit when my husband asked if I’d like one for Christmas I poo-pooed the idea saying “It’s too expensive. Besides I like to hold a book, smell a book….” And on I went with a laundry list of reasons why I don’t want a Kindle.

Then came that day when I learned that not one but TWO of one of my favorite author’s books were available FREE on Kindle and I began to take back a few of my previous affenties to the electronic beast. Well who hates free? The only problem with that is now I feel bad not supporting my writer friends if I were to buy the device and only load free books. Can you say “cheap, cheap, cheap?”

The question remains. Do you Kindle? Should I Kindle? When are they going to have a Kindle library. THAT might be the clencher for me.

Even as I write it I have visions of my grand home library with hardwood floor, walls and walls of books, plush chairs, ornate lampstands, complete with one of those sliding ladders. Sigh! It’s imaginary people, remember I have kids! We operate on a teacher’s salary. Maybe I can load a virtual library on the screen of my Kindle and “flip” through titles on a touch screen like it’s a mini shelf.  Hmmm, ya think I would get anywhere with my ideas? Here’s wishin’ and here’s to reading- Kindle or not!

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FREE Brandilyn Collins on Kindle

My post “How to Read a Brandilyn Collins’ Novel” is being featured today (Sunday) on 5 Minutes for Books!

Check it out here and learn how to get my favorite Christian suspense writer’s novels free!

Happy New Year,

Jessie

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Tracie Peterson – Dawn’s Prelude book review

Tracie Peterson – Dawn’s Prelude, historical fiction, Alaska fiction, christian, love, hope

Dawn's Prelude (Song of Alaska)Dawn’s Prelude was disappointing because again I lost a lot of sleep, it was that good!  I recommend this novel.  Surprising and full of hard questions about life and tragedy, the book is beautifully written.

I’ve not read a Tracie Peterson novel before so I didn’t have any assumptions to go off of.   Truthfully I expected a leisurely read.  You know the ones; those novel’s I’ve been known to call “soft reads” or “summer reads”.  Dawn’s Prelude was anything but.   At first I was disappointed, not because I didn’t like the book but because I was expecting to catch up on some sleep after reading Eyes of Elisha.    The first, second, third, fourth chapter into the novel I finally dragged myself to bed.  Poor hubby I’d said “one chapter Hon, then I’ll can sleep”!

Set primarily in the serene landscape of Sitka Alaska, early 1800’s.  Lydia, a young widow moves away from her cruel step children to be with her Aunt Zerelda.  Her past continues to hold her back.  Will she ever be free?

Zee was one of my favorite characters.  A plucky Christian lady who “gets along fine” on her own!  She provides answers to many of the difficult questions Lydia poses.  I love how Tracie Peterson used this character instead of author’s voice or simply leaving questions unanswered. 

There was a point in the middle of the novel where I thought, “we are about to walk a fine line between believability and  soap opera reality” but as soon as I thought it the purpose for certain events became clear and I was once again swept away by the beauty and connectivity of the writing.

The diversity of the characters kept me spellbound.  There are characters of Swedish origin, Russian and even Tlingit Indians.  I found myself chanting the Swedish dialogue in sing song and could almost hear the Russian voices as well.

Well done Tracie, I can’t wait to pick up the next novel in this series!

Amazingly, I WON Dawn’s Prelude through a blog giveaway.  Thank you to Jolanth!

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Nightstand, books with pretty covers -December reads

I’m curious!  Do you read books more often by genre, author, topic, pretty cover?  How do you most often pick your books?Raising Rain

When I took a look at my nightstand I realized I do a combo when picking what to read next.  Often it starts with an author that I like or have had recommended.  Sometimes it’s about what genre I haven’t read recently (I like to mix it up) but occasionally a really great cover will trump all the rest.  That was the case with Dawn’s Prelude.  What a beautiful book.  I have a feeling Raising Rain by Debbie Fuller Thomas is going to lure me in on account of the beautiful cover as well.

Click on the book title links to read my full review.

Dawn's Prelude (Song of Alaska)Tracie Peterson – Dawn’s Prelude   was disappointing because again I lost a lot of sleep, it was that good!  I recommend this novel.  Surprising and full of hard questions about life and tragedy, the book is beautifully written.

Christian Fiction Suspense & MysteryBrandilyn Collins – Coral Moon:  I’m almost done with this novel, the 2nd in the Kanner Lake Series but since I’ve run out of batteries in my flashlight I’ve had to resort to reading only in the daylight, otherwise I would have been done by now.  Check out my tutorial “How to read a Brandilyn Collins Novel

Link up your nightstand reads at 5 Minutes for Books

What's On Your Nightstand

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10 Things I Hate About Books

  1. They make me loose sleep
  2. They make me cry – I NEVER cry
  3. They make me eat my words – “I hate romance novels.”  “I’m too chicken to read crime novels.”
  4. They distract me from housework.
  5. They CALL to me from the book store
  6. They FIND me in the thrift store, and occasionally…
  7. They pop into my amazon cart and show up on my porch.”How did YOU get here?”
  8. Did I mention they make me cry?
  9. They make me forget to eat.
  10. If I don’t finish quickly enough they make me mope around my house until I can.

Here are the reviews for the books I’ve read and immensely enjoyed this month.  Click the titles for my reviews.

Eyes of Elisha by Brandilyn Collins –  Suspense, riveting action, CSI but realistic.  So not CSI. Law and Order without the hopelessness. Ok not Law and order. 🙂  Brandilyn Collins writes one of a kind novels.

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin –  Like a good friend going home, I’m sad to have finished this book.

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins- What do murder and hope have in common?

What's On Your Nightstand

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Eyes of Elisha Review

Eyes of Elisha (Chelsea Adams Series #1)Oh man, if Violet Dawn was great Eyes of Elisha was awesome.  Brandilyn Collins sets the bar higher with each book she writes.  Now I’m wondering, “can it get any better?”   But apparently on the “suspense scale” I’ve yet to read a three!  MERCY.

Actually the truth of the matter is none of Brandilyn Collins’ books disappoint.

From the back of the book: “The murder was ugly.  The killer was sure no one saw him.  Someone did.  In a horrifying vision Chelsea Adams has relived the victims last moments.  But who will believe her? Certainly not the police, who must rely on hard evidence.  Nor her husband, who barely tolerates Chelsea’s newfound Christian faith.  Besides, he’s about to hire the man who Chelsea is certain is the killer to be a vice president in his company.”

I found myself ripping through the novel as if my life depended on it.  Riveting, mind bending, terrifying at times, Eyes of Elisha kept me glued to my chair all the way to the last word.  And yet, true to form, woven throughout the book were themes of forgiveness, hope in spite of our circumstances and unlikely friendship.

reading

CLICK ME

Keep them coming Brandilyn!

I’m a newly converted “seatbelt suspense” fan! 

Click the goofy picture of me at the right to read my post “How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel” especially if you aren’t sure you can read suspense.  I didn’t think I could.

ONLY SLIGHTLY OFF SUBJECT:

Read on if you are curious about how Brandilyn handles the vision.

When I first read the back of the book I was a little worried about the vision bit.  I believe whole heartedly that God uses his people for his purposes and if that includes modern day visions I have no problem accepting that.  The problem lies in a past experience of my own. 

I dated a kid whose family was involved in a deeply charismatic church.  My church, being more conservative mysteriously avoided the subject of gifts unless it came to organ playing and hospitality.  I ended up smack dab in the middle of two extreme views.  The boyfriends parents believed, as their church taught, that unless you received the Spirit in the form of a tangible experience, being “slain in the spirit” you were not saved.  In their defense my home church believed unless you were Baptised in water you were not truly saved.  UGH!  I couldn’t win.

I know now that salvation doesn’t come by works or gifts but by the blood of Jesus.  In the book of James Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

At any rate, Brandilyn’s book beautifully portrayed a faithful follower of Christ who’s vision horrified even her.  Chelsea was not an overzealous, heavy handed believer whose goal was to convince everyone that visions are the only way to heaven.  Instead the vision was used to show the power of the Lord and the fallibility of mankind.  In Christ, through faith and by seeking Him even our mistakes can be used to the good of those who believe in Jesus.

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How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Book

reading
How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel.

I was a little unprepared when I opened my first Brandilyn Collins novel.  Notwithstanding, I decided to write a tutorial so none of you have to experience this misfortune.

I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without reading her books.  Making up for lost time I read two crime novels in less than two weeks.  

To date she has published 19 novels, is an accomplished speaker who loves to connect with readers through her popular blog Forensics and Faith as well as her Facebook page.  

Buy a book, check out her blog and give her a shout on Facebook.   Don’t forget to tell her I sent you.

Without any further ado, here’s my how-to.
 
Paraphernalia:   Items to have close by when reading a Brandilyn Collins book.  Better yet have the following bag of tricks within reach  because once you “buckle in” you won’t want to get up. I promise.
  1. the book – And as Brandilyn would say “Don’t forget to BREATHE!”
  2. a pen and paper– This gal knows a lot of words and she’s not afraid to use them.  I keep pen and paper handy to jot down words I don’t know, words I know but want to get more familiar with and words that I simply like.
  3. lights, lots of lights! – When possible, read only during the day.  Sadly I cannot so I carry a BIG FLASHLIGHT!  It has surprising dual benefit, its heavy enough to be a weapon.  Watch out Hon!
  4. phone – Your gonna need a phone to call your mommy.

Which of Brandilyn’s books have you read?  Did I miss anything necessary for surviving her fast paced suspense novels?

Don’t think suspense is up your alley? I’m told she has some books just for you too.  Click the big honkin’ chicken’s club button below for suggestions on where to start if you aren’t sure about reading something that gets your heart pumping.
Big Honkin' Chickens Club

 How does a Christian author write about such terrifying circumstances and still stay true to her faith?  As Chrisitians we are not exempt from trouble in fact James says “Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials for the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  Brandilyn’s ministry is in depicting how characters who face tragic circumstances react.  Some lean on Christ, others are driven to commit terrible crimes, still others stay ambiguous in their faith.  We see different people in different walks of life change, thus challenging each of us to take a hard look at how we deal with this imperfect world we live in.  

The Bible says that the whole earth moans as if in the pains of childbirth, waiting to be restored to Him.  Like a new baby we are in for a surprise when this life is up!  For those who know Jesus personally; restoration, peace, no more tears. For those who reject him they are given what they choose, eternal separation. 

Each of Brandilyn’s books takes you right up to the edge of life, ask the hard questions and leaves you with a choice.  Which path will you follow?

See what books I’ve read here.  Recently that is!

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My Own Violet Dawn

Violet Dawn (Kanner Lake Series #1) Deliciously creepy and yet mysteriously full of hope. 

What I enjoy about Brandilyn Collins is her candid approach to life, tragedy and hope.  Not only the “queen of suspense,” she is personable and a wonderful teacher.  Using the “rules” I learned from a blog tutorial on Forensics and Faith– Brandilyn’s popular blog, I will attempt to write a review of my first christian crime novel experience.

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Creepy describes the book Violet Dawn but so does heartwarming.  How can these both be true?  Brandilyn writes a heart pumping, edge of your seat novel that keeps you guessing all the way to the end.

Tucking my toes under a warm blanket I ran my fingers over the slick cover of my new book.  The 1st in the Kanner Lake series.  The wood stove crackled as it emitted pillows of warmth. Sniffing the pages I peered around the room.  The kids had been in bed for an hour but after a stunt like that I had to be sure.  I didn’t want anyone to see me smelling a book.  

Empty.  Not a soul in sight.  

Sucking in my breath I inclining my ear toward the bedroom.  I could hear light snoring coming from the darkened room where my husband slept.  I exhaled.   Expecting a leisurely tour through the streets of a sleepy little town modeled after my own beloved Coeur d’Alene I huddled lower in my chair and opened to the first chapter.

A gust of wind slammed into the living room window.  I jolted.  Heart pumping.  A murder.  An unfortunate set up.  The window rattled as the night unleashed one of Idaho’s grand storms.  Rain pelting the house.  A shiver crept up my spine and I yanked the fuzzy blanket to my chin.  Wild eyed I held my breath.  Is it him? 

Thump thump.  Thump thump.  I could hear my heart pounding in my head.  Curling my fists around the blanket I held them to my throat trying to muffle the drumming? 

The fire had gone cold as I read.  I’d forgotten my own reality.  My mind began to come around to the present.  Kids sleeping in their beds.  My own violet dawn fast approaching.  How long have I been here?  The clock chimed once.  Just a storm. Just the wee hours of the morning!

reading

CLICK ME

Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Three sittings are all it took to get to the end and yet the story is still with me. 

Through terrifying circumstances Paige Williams learned about God’s grace, hope and true friendship.  These books are not for the faint of heart!

Click the picture at right to read my tutorial “How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel”.

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Though Waters Roar

Though Waters RoarSince reading Lynn Austin’s new book “Though Waters Roar” I can’t stop imagining my life as a river. Often I try to swim against the current because I don’t like where it is leading me.  When I give up and let Christ’s peace wash over, the ride is not always what I expect but I certainly experience less drowning, choking, exhaustion!

This Historical Fiction takes place at the end of Prohibition, throughout women’s suffrage and in a turbulent time in America’s History.  From her jail cell, Harriet reminisces about the stories her grandmother told her and the life each of them was dealt.  The story beautifully portray’s a relationship between a girl and her grandmother who are both “social misfits” in their grand family heritage.  Together, the women find peace in the river of life through exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Lynn’s style of writing makes you feel like you are having a conversation over coffee.  The characters seem so real and the story does not follow the expected course of “happily ever after”.  She writes about real life and real struggles with the hope of Christ as the thread that ties it all together but not in some perfect pretty package. 

The river will swallow those who fight against circumstances.  There is no permanent “hot springs” of life instead it is rocky and turbulent at times.  Sometimes its a slow calm trickle but always unexpected. 

Right now I’m still attempting to swim upstream. Lord help me surrender! What about you? Is your life a slow trickle or a raging waterfall? Maybe somewhere in between.

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Spare Oom

The Chronicles of Narnia (7-Book Box Set includes "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Prince Caspian," "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," "The Silver Chair," "The Magician's Nephew," " The Horse and His Boy" and "The Last Battle")Who hasn’t climbed in behind the clothes in the closet of a “spare oom”, held her breath and waited for a friend or a sibling as they counted, “twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty. Ready or not here I come!”

So many childhood memories as well as childhood fantasies are wrapped up and delivered in my favorite book series by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Entertaining?  Yes.  Imaginative?  Yes.  But beyond that the books are chock full of God’s promised and incredibly deep introspective concepts.  C.S. Lewis was in short brilliant and an amazing man of God.  His faith was a deep challenging faith that even in these childrens books an adult can find peace and restoration, struggle and triumph.

Entertaining. Yes, but the Narnia series is ageless.

If you have seen the movies but not read the books, you are really missing out!

I’ve just discovered the Children’s Classics carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books, and it has been a great way to get to know other moms. I’ve also discovered a bunch of new books I need in my bookcase! 😉

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