July 9, 2016

read with us: a book we've already read

This month in the reading challenge, our category was A Book You've Already Read. However, life got in the way of our good intentions. As Susan put it when I sent out the email asking for reviews, "Just report that I am a failure."

But in reality, none of us are failures. Modern Mrs. Darcy is getting us to read things we wouldn't otherwise be reading, and, even if we don't finish those books, I still consider that a win. Plus, this month's category was "a book you've already read at least once," so the only thing we missed out on by not finishing our books was seeing these books through new eyes. And I would guess that each of us who didn't finish our book will do so at some time in the future.

We "read" The Robe, The Dandelion Field, Anne of Green Gables, and Pride & Prejudice.

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

Susan says: I read The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I very much enjoyed the first half of it, which is all I finished reading last month. This book was in my parents' library, and I was in about 7th grade when I first read it. It made such an impact on me that I purchased a hardback copy to put in my own library when I was in college.

The story is about Marcellus, a Tribune in Rome, who fell into disfavor with the Roman Prince Gaius and was sent to run the Roman Garrison at Minoa in southern Palestine. He was responsible to oversee the crucifixion of Jesus, whom he was convinced was innocent of the charges brought against him. He was the recipient of Jesus' robe, and after being coerced to put it on, became deeply emotionally disturbed and overwhelmed with guilt for his part in that terrible day.

Another important character is Demetrius, the Greek slave of Marcellus, who was his true friend and who was eager to find a way to heal Marcellus' sick mind. The robe itself was key in that healing process.

This book was interesting for its descriptions of the corrupt government of that time, and of the people who were either slave owners or slaves themselves. The story of people who believed Jesus was God and put their faith in him, in spite of severe persecution, resonates in our day and age.

I highly recommend this book and give it 5 stars.

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer
Becky says: This is another month when reality got in the way of my intentions. I really wanted to read Anne of Green Gables, but June actually turned into my month of previously reads, thanks to the INSPYs. I was a judge for the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category, and a whopping four out of five titles that made the shortlist were books I'd already read. (Maybe this means I just have really great taste?) So, I'm choosing to count The Dandelion Field, which is the book that won the INSPY, as my book for this month, even though I read it for the INSPYs and not for this challenge.

The Dandelion Field tells the story of single mom Gin and her teen daughter Raine as they try to build a life in Bannister Falls. It deals with some heavy issues like teen pregnancy, abuse, prejudice, and poverty, but it's also a very enjoyable story to read. And after you read it, you'll definitely want to go right into The Hearts We Mend, which I liked even more!

You can see my 5 star review here, and be sure to check out all the 2016 INSPY winners (and if you want to go even deeper, the shortlisted books)--you can find some great reads to add to your TBR pile!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Val says: For June's reading challenge, I read (ok, am still reading) Anne of Green Gables.  I've seen the movies (with Megan Follows) approximately eleventy billion times and LOVE them, but I'd only read the book once.

June was a busy month - moving into a new house and closing on the old one plus the wedding of a dear friend meant that there hasn't been much time for reading. But that doesn't mean that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed the time I did spend rereading the first half of this book.  Anne is utterly endearing in her earnestness, her "all in" approach to life and friendships, and her expressions of priceless imagination.  My goal is to carve out some time this weekend to finish the book because I'm always glad after I've spent some minutes/hours with the gentle souls of Avonlea. 5 stars.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Steph says: This is a book that I have read more than any other. This go round is probably somewhere between my 10th and 12th time through the book since picking it up in high school. For years it was the book that I carried in my purse if I wasn’t reading another one. There are so many things I like about this book. Each time I read it there is some nuance that I notice for the first time. When I first picked up the book I loved the sarcasm and wit that Austen used to describe the ridiculousness in society on page one. Then I loved Lizzie and the way that she knew who she was and how she would stick to her guns against whatever the world might say otherwise. Then I loved the bond between sisters, between Lizzie and Mr. Bennet, between Collins and his benefactress Lady Catherine.

But what stuck with me the most is what I first loved about the leading lady—the way she could laugh at the ridiculous side of life. In the first few pages, Lizzie and company are at a ball. She overhears Darcy calling her “tolerable” and refuse to dance with her.  Her response, in the words of Austen, “She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.”  Rather than allowing her worth to be diminished by the opinion of others, she laughs at the ridiculousness of the situation and lives life to the fullest. I admire that so much, probably because it is very much how I would like to handle things.

As always, I would give Pride and Prejudice 5 stars. I loved it when I first read it, and I still love it now. It’s a great book for a glimpse at family life, ridiculous people, the bonds of friendship, and how everyone is a little bit stupid when it comes to love.

If you've read any of these books, we'd love to know your thoughts! Be sure to join us again at the end of the month--we're reading books that were published before we were born.

July 8, 2016

friday favorites #27: week of july 8, 2016

Happy Friday! Why is it that holiday weeks feel longer than usual? It can't be just me, can it? I only worked Wednesday through Friday, but boy did those days feel long! So I'm thrilled that the weekend has arrived! Here are some of my recent favorite things:

1. 4th of July in Indiana
Spending the 4th in Indiana is becoming a bit of a tradition. Last year, my mom and I went out to see my sister and brother-in-law, and this year, my dad went along, too! We were gone Friday through Tuesday, and, despite some horrible delays due to road construction and bad traffic, we had a wonderful time!
It's never a sure thing that Dad's going anywhere until he's in the car, so I snapped this pic as we left to prove to Val that he was with us.

When we got there, Miss Chloe decided she really liked my bed. She's such a fluff ball, and she's so full of personality. Not very cuddly, that one, but certainly entertaining. She also scared me to death the first night—I saw her leave my room while I was getting ready for bed, so I closed the door. At 3 a.m., she jumped on top of me! Apparently, she snuck back in before I closed the door.

We went blueberry picking! Most of the blueberries weren't ripe yet, so we had to do some searching, but we ended up with 10 pounds for Val.

Dad was very tired after picking blueberries ...

We played lots of Rummy and Golf. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of my perfect Rummy hand. I went out on my first turn, and I was the first player!

We went to a "patriotic" concert in the park at Winona Lake ... only the concert didn't include much patriotic music. The highlight was the Four Seasons medley the band played. (In retrospect, I'm not sure that the concert was even advertised as patriotic—I just made that assumption because the concert took place over the holiday weekend.)

We girls saw Ragtime at the Wagon Wheel. It was phenomenal. Last year, we saw Bye Bye Birdie there, and it was really good, but Ragtime was something special.

It was almost chilly the whole time we were there, and we took advantage of the coolness by taking several walks—at Grace, around Winona Lake, and in Val & Greg's new neighborhood. As we walked, I was totally obsessed with the hostas. Now that I have my own baby hostas, I'm eager to see everyone else's! They seem to be a very popular plant in Val & Greg's neighborhood.

We had to head home on Tuesday, and we made sure to stop at a Chick-fil-A. Oh, how we need one in central Nebraska!

2. Galaxy Quest
I have loved Galaxy Quest ever since I saw it in the theater way back in '99. I've seen it multiple times over the years, but I'd forgotten just how clever the writing is! And, in addition to the at-the-time stars, it has so many now-famous people in it: Corbin Bleu, Enrico Colantoni, Rainn Wilson, Sam Rockwell.

We (and by "we," I mean "everyone but Dad who was sleeping") watched it at Val's, and it was a pure delight from start to finish. If you're in need of a good laugh, check it out on Netflix!

3. 30 for 30 documentaries
I recently discovered that many of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries are on Netflix, and now I can't get enough of them! My favorites so far are This Magic Moment, about the rise and fall of the Orlando Magic in the 1990s, Jordan Rides the Bus, about Michael Jordan's foray into minor league baseball, and (obviously, if you know me at all) The Price of Gold, about the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal. Up next: Believeland. We'll see if it can make me stop loathing the Cavs.

(Tangentially related note: I love that Kevin Durant has joined the Warriors. And, while I can understand Thunder fans' disappointment, I don't get why people who aren't Thunder fans are upset, and I don't see how "chasing rings" is a bad thing. If the goal of NBA basketball is to win a championship, why wouldn't you do whatever you can to get there?)

4. The Great British Baking Show
It's back! My mom and I enjoy watching baking competitions together, and The Great British Baking Show is by far our favorite. Season 3 just started (which apparently was season 6 in the UK). It airs on PBS (and on the PBS app), and it's so fun! You can watch episodes here. Just do it!

5. INSPY award winners!
Instead of just one book recommendation today, I'm going to give you a bunch. At the end of last month, the INSPY award winners for 2016 were announced. I was privileged to be one of the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense judges this year, and it was such a great experience. I've read several of the winners (see them all here), and they're great—but the winner I'm most excited about is Sarah Sundin's Through Waters Deep. While I generally prefer contemporary to historical fiction, I can't get enough of Sundin's books, and I'm so excited to see her win this award!

But seriously, check out all the winners. You're sure to find something great to add to your TBR pile.

(Fun fact: When I first posted about Through Waters Deep last year, my friend Jennifer commented that the guy on the cover looks like Ryan Reynolds. So now all I can think of is Ryan Reynolds when I look at it!)

If you've made it to the end of this post, bless you! As usual, I'm linking up with Erika, Christina, and Karli. What are some things you've been enjoying this week?

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