The Road Less Traveled: AB goes to Hampton Plantation, home of Archibald Rutledge

20170324_125139 (1)As a creative writing teacher, I’m always looking for ways to expose my young writers to strong examples of good writing and to the personal stories of respected, published authors. Recently, I accompanied some students along with their parents to McClellanville, SC and Hampton Plantation – the ancestral home of Archibald Rutledge, South Carolina’s first poet laureate. Rutledge grew up in a wealthy family with deep ties to the land and history of the South Carolina lowcountry. His great-great grandfather, Daniel Horry, purchased the land in the early 18th century and later built the house on this sprawling rice and indigo plantation. Rutledge spent his pivotal years roaming the land, learning to hunt the local wildlife, and befriending the children of former slaves. After decades teaching in Pennsylvania, Rutledge, already an established writer, moved back home to oversee the restoration of his beloved home. To the Rutledge enthusiast, such works as Home by the River and Tales of Whitetails bring this special place to life, and I wanted my students to experience it in person. Continue reading

Reading Challenge Update – Natalie recaps 5 new reads 

A couple of weeks ago, my family of five expanded to a family of six – and busy is our new phase. But before that event, I was trying to get through a big chunk of my 2017 reading list. My list included 24 books, and I’ve managed to make it 1/3 of the way through. Since my reading time is limited, I chose books that I thought had the best chance of making it to the finished pile rather than the discarded pile. So far, 7 out of 8 have been big winners, so read on to find out more. Continue reading

Snapshot: 3 quick reviews on 3 celebrity memoirs

By Meg
I didn’t mean to binge on celebrity memoirs the past few weeks, but as I’ve requested various ones from the library the past 3-6 months, they all became available for me AT THE SAME TIME. And of course books that you wait 6 months for cannot be renewed … so blitz through them I did. All were enjoyable to a degree, but one definitely rose above the crowd. So here are 3 really quick reviews (with star ratings)  of memoirs by Carrie Fisher, Cary Elwes, and Megyn Kelly.

PDbookThe “meh”moir:
The Princess Diarist,
by Carrie Fisher. ***

I’m always interested in people’s diaries, so reading Carrie Fisher’s actual entries in her handwriting was fascinating. But for the most part, this was the story of an older teenager with a crush on her much-older, married co-star having meaningless sex with him during the weekends of their filming of the first Star Wars movie. She admits her own immaturities; but with the excess of the vulgarities and her lack of ultimately pointing to anything beyond her memories, I came away from this read (which took less than a day to finish) just feeling kind of “meh.” I’d hoped for more. Continue reading

Elizabeth Is Missing

By Emma Healey                            Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Reviewed by Natalie                      4/5 stars

513shwrvdlThe mystery genre takes up a great deal of space on my bookshelves, and my love of mystery stems back to elementary school when my 4th grade teacher read The Pink Motel (as I’ve mentioned a few times). Typically, I read Agatha Christie’s mysteries along with my fair share of Gothic-style mysteries like Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in WhiteElizabeth Is Missing is #22 on my 2017 book list – a “book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet.” I bought this book, but then read a few others before picking it up. Once I did, I didn’t want to put it down. Continue reading

Love Him Anyway, by Abby Banks

Reviewed by: AB
Memoir, faith testimonial

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-8-37-38-amI’m going to be honest: Love Him Anyway isn’t the kind of book that I normally read. I’m unapologetically a fiction reader primarily, but I’m so glad that I read this book. When my friend Anna (from Ambassador International) asked if I wanted to read a book about a baby who becomes paralyzed at the age of 7 months, I was skeptical that this was the book for me. But God knew how much I would need to read this book. In the past year I’ve seen unfathomable loss. I’ve seen friends and family members bear incredible burdens when it comes to their little ones. Some have lost their babies in the womb and others have lost them as newborns. I’ve seen other friends watch their children struggle with sudden debilitating physical handicaps. Love Him Anyway is the kind of book that is for all of those parents and for anyone who simply wants to understand how to have hope when surrounded by pain. Continue reading

Favorite Love Stories

The month of February is almost gone, so for one last “love” post, we’ve all submitted our favorite love stories found in books. 

Beauty, by Robin McKinley beauty

AB’s Thoughts on Why: Few love stories can compete with that of Beauty and the Beast–a classic fairytale that I have loved since I was a little girl. Maybe it’s the mystery surrounding the Beast’s story or the enchantment that holds his castle captive, but I think I love this story most because of Beauty herself. Unlike the heroines in most fairytales, she is intelligent, independent, brave, kind, and most of all, she loves to read. As a little girl, I could identify, especially, with that last characteristic, so she quickly became one of my favorite characters in literature. Robin McKinley captures these qualities better than anyone else in Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. Written in the first-person narrative, Beauty describes herself this way: Continue reading

A Loving Life, by Paul Miller

Review by Meg
Genre: Christian Growth – 4.5 stars

couple-260899_1280Hopefully you aren’t sick of the concept/phrase/ theme of “love” yet (at the end of the week of our dearly beloved Valentine’s Day). I set this book up in my reading challenge to finish for this week, just to see what Paul Miller had to add to the love discussion.

His discussion of love may just be life changing for me.

I’m really not trying to resort to hyperbole as a means to get you to read this book – and I know I gush about a lot of books at times (I just really do love good books!). But truly, this book has done – is doing – a work in me. I’ve done several very in-depth studies on love – from I Corinthians 13 (the famous “love passage”); and I’ve read plenty of Shakespearean sonnets and E.B. Browning poetry in my time. I’m not a feelings-oriented person to begin with, so I’ve never gone for phrases like “falling in love” (or out of love). I prefer the concept that love is a choice of commitment. But A Loving Life just goes so much deeper, using the biblical story Ruth as an explanation and demonstration of genuine hesed love (translated “loving loyalty” or “steadfast love”). Continue reading