Book Launch: The Speaking Season

Hello, Shelfies! Erica here. It’s been a while. I’ve been holed up in a corner, hunched over a laptop, printed pages stained with multicolored ink slashes, squiggles, and writing with more in common with Egyptian hieroglyphs than English words. All of my hard work has paid off, and I’m interrupting regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very, very special announcement: 
121418_SS Front Cover*deep breath*

I’m releasing a new book April 23, 2019 entitled The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces. It’s 40 poems, their origin stories and explanations, and three creative non-fiction essays written to inspire dialogue and discussion, challenge you to look at a topic or issue from a different perspective, or express feelings you can meet with an enthusiastic (or teary-eyed) me, too.

If you love poetry and/or want to help me get this book in the right hands, sign up to be a part of my launch team: https://forms.gle/4jChxnDYqH8hg3Rt6

‘Kay, thanks, bye!

*runs around the corner* *faints*

Seriously, I’m so excited about this collection. It’s thought-provoking, challenging, and vulnerable in ways I’ve never been before, which makes me anxious in good and bad ways for readers to get their hands on it. If you have any questions about the collection, or just want to leave me some encouragement, feel free to do so in the comments section. 
XOXO,
Erica D. Hearns

Coffee Table Books Readers Will Love

Any reader will tell you that books bring value in a multitude of ways. It goes beyond reading the words on the page or losing oneself in a story. Books have their own aesthetic, their own sensory value that is powerful in and of itself.

I’m one of those readers that loves to be surrounded by books. I can look at covers and spines and remember when I read that story and how it made me feel. I can just as easily get lost in those memories as I would if I smelled the cologne of my first love. I have an appreciation for not only the story, but also the magic and history behind it. Other readers know that, when you hold a book in your hand, there is so much more to it than the physical object you hold.  So it should come as no surprise that I love the aesthetic beauty of a good coffee table book. And a book about books checks all the sensory boxes for me.

Next time you’re browsing the bookstore, consider picking up a coffee table book that celebrates all the different aspects of books that we readers just adore!

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures by Carla Hayden

The Library of Congress brings book lovers an enriching tribute to the power of the written word and to the history of our most beloved books. Featuring more than 200 full-color images of original catalog cards, first edition book covers, and photographs from the library’s magnificent archives, this collection is a visual celebration of the rarely seen treasures in one of the world’s most famous libraries and the brilliant catalog system that has kept it organized for hundreds of years. Packed with engaging facts on literary classics—from Ulysses to The Cat in the Hat to Shakespeare’s First Folio to The Catcher in the Rye—this package is an ode to the enduring magic and importance of books.

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

For so many people, reading isn’t just a hobby or a way to pass the time–it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without them.

I’d Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

The perfect gift for the bibliophile in everyone’s life, I’d Rather Be Reading will command an honored place on the overstuffed bookshelves of any book lover.

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books.

We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.

My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force

The books that we choose to keep –let alone read– can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others. With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect gift for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book.

BHS Episode 4: Pockets of Lovely with Abigail Rudibaugh

Today, we’re getting to know Abigail Rudibaugh By Her Shelf:

Abigail Rudibaugh

Abigail calls Cincinnati, Ohio home alongside her husband and two young daughters. As a graduate from Miami University of Ohio in Integrated Language Arts, she spent nine years teaching, but is now taking time to nourish her writer’s soul. Abigail believes that in a prescriptive and productive world, poetry has become the umbrella in which she can finally find some shade. Find her on Instagram & Twitter @pocketsoflovely or at pocketsoflovely.com

In this episode, Abby and I discuss:

-The “lovely” story behind the name Pockets of Lovely

-How being a writer has changed the way she reads

-The late Mary Oliver, one of Abby’s favorite poets

-Embarrassing book habits

-FOMO on pop lit conversations

And so much more.

Whether or not you consider yourself to be a poetry lover, I guarantee you’ll connect with some part of this interview with Abby.

The books (These are affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you buy through one of these links):

The first book Abby remembers loving (Kindle)

The assigned reading that surprised her (in a good way) (Kindle)

This classic was disliked twice in five interviews! (Kindle)

A Thousand Mornings Kindle Version

Ariel by Sylvia Plath (Kindle)

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Kindle)

Abby’s Surprising Book (Kindle)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Kindle)

Liane Moriarty

John Steinbeck

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Kindle)

Abby’s current read (Kindle)

Up next for Abby (Kindle)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Kindle)

The Links:

I’m Nobody! Who are you? by Emily Dickinson

Abby’s site: Pockets of Lovely

Poet Mary Oliver

“A Thousand Mornings”

Poet Wendell Berry

Recordings of Sylvia Plath reading poems from Ariel

Newsletter subscribers will receive two special emails this week: A list of diverse books if Madeleine’s episode inspired you and a list of can’t miss poetry collections if Abby’s episode sparked your poetry reading fancy. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Next week’s episode is actually the first episode I recorded for the podcast. My guest is an entrepreneur and content creator focused on empowering women to be confident and cultivate self-esteem. You don’t want to miss getting to know this powerhouse By Her Shelf. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t!

If you’re loving the show, I would really appreciate it if you left a rating/review on iTunes. It helps others find the show…and maybe their next favorite book.

BHS Episode 3: The Muggle Version of Hermione Granger with Madeleine Riley

Today we’re getting to know Madeleine Riley By Her Shelf:

Madeleine Riley

Madeleine is a special education teacher by day and a voracious bookworm by night. She shares her bookish life on her literary-themed Instagram @topshelftext. A loyal New Englander, she loves the ocean, cats, organizing, and is an aspiring gardener. When she grows up, she wants to be the muggle version of Hermione Granger.

In this episode, Madeleine and I discuss:

How she implements reading into her curriculum as a special education teacher

How watching the white Nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia sparked the Diverse Books Club, and why she shuttered the club with over 13,000 members

How she makes her Instagram more accessible and inclusive

The feedback she receives the most often from her appearance on What Should I Read Next

The book recommendation she’s been avoiding.

The books:

Nancy Drew Mysteries

Harry Potter Series

Romeo and Juliet (Kindle)

Madeleine’s favorite assigned book: The Odyssey (Kindle)

Song of Achilles (Kindle)

Circe (Kindle)

Madeleine’s least favorite assigned book: Great Expectations (Kindle)

Barracoon (Kindle)

The Madeline books

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast

A Boy Called Bat (Kindle)

What Should I Read Next Picks:

The Mothers (Kindle)

Death at La Fenice (Kindle)–A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

A Share in Death (Kindle)

Small Great Things (Kindle)

The Pact: A Love Story (Kindle)

Most mentioned book from her WSIRN episode: The Cuckoo’s Calling (Kindle)

Don’t Judge Me, But: Beloved (Kindle)

Madeleine didn’t like this popular book: The Handmaid’s Tale (Kindle)

The Road Back to You (Kindle)

She also didn’t like this author: Liane Moriarty

Her comfort zone series: The Lady Hardcastle Mysteries (Kindle)

(T.E. Kinsey Author Page)

Maisey Dobbs Mysteries

Current read at time of interview: The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Kindle)

Top of TBR pile at time of interview: Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Kindle)

My suggestion for learning more about history of Charlottesville, VA:

Urban Renewal and the End of Black Culture in Charlottesville, Virginia: An Oral History of Vinegar Hill (Kindle)

The Links:

The account that inspired Madeleine to close caption her posts: @mugandnook

The book club Madeleine is following for diverse reads: @words.between.worlds 

For more enneagram info: @yourenneagramcoach

Madeleine’s episode of What Should I Read Next: Ep 72: Embarrassing Bookworm Confessions

How Do You Measure of a Year? In Books, Of Course!

The last few days while everyone else was sharing their reflections on their year in reading, I was scrambling to complete my Goodreads goal and editing podcast episodes (*cue confetti* *have a nap waiting in the wings*). I don’t like to review a year until I’m in the new year, anyway.

As you’ll see in my stats, my reading for the challenge was heavily weighted one way. While I enjoyed the books I read and look forward to reading more of the same in 2019, I want to make sure I read more of other genres I love this year. I’ll share my new reading goals in a separate post. On the positive side, I upped the number of books I wanted to read in 2018 by 15 books, and I met my goal! Without further ado, here’s my year in books *:

Books read: 65

Library books finished: 3

Read What You Own Books (that I know I owned before 2018): 6

Review/Launch Team Books: 7

Fiction: 58

Non-Fiction: 7

Romance: 54

-Romantic Suspense: 14

-Contemporary Romance: 38

-Historical Romance: 2

Non-Romantic Fiction: 4

Memoir/Autobiography: 6

These stats provide a good snapshot of my year, but for a more accurate picture, I wanted to spotlight some notable books.My affiliate links are included.

First book finished*: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham
This was a quick, fun read that reeked of 90’s romance tropes. If you can appreciate it for what it is–trope soup, limited POV, and 90s level of understanding of masculinity/femininity/happily ever after–it’s a fast and funny book.

Last book read: Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

I really ended the year on a high note. I LOVED this book! This book combines many elements of my favorite reads: Zora Neale Hurston; Anthropological/Ethnographical study; a personal story told in the subject’s voice; a snapshot of an interesting time in history, etc. This story is an important one, and I’m thankful it has finally been published and disseminated.

Better Than Expected: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

This book had some pretty harsh reviews, but I like Anne Tyler and retellings of classics are some of my favorite stories, so I decided to give this one a try. If you’re a fan of Taming of the Shrew or Ten Things I Hate About You, you might like this retelling set between academia and daycare.

FOMO Reads of 2018: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I heard these two books recommended several times on What Should I Read Next. I caved to FOMO and read both, and I’m glad I did! Both of these books lived up to the hype. Eleanor is funny and endearing, and Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir is gripping and reflective in an engaging way. I highly recommend both.

Best Book for Book Lovers: I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel

If you love all things books and reading, you must read this book! Anne beautifully portrays many of the joys and dilemmas of the reading life. This book is a beautiful celebration of all the things I love about literature.

Series I enjoyed this year:

The Precinct Series by Julie Miller

I read many books in this series in 2016, but I read the backlist and became current on this series in 2018. If you love romantic suspense, seeing your favorite characters in several different books, mini-series within a larger series, and heroes/heroines with real world conflicts and complications, then I highly recommend this series.

Mirror Lake Series by Kathryn Springer
This inspirational romance series was wonderful. The characters were realistic and made me root for them. Springer made the town and its inhabitants come alive, and the conflicts were just as realistic. If you’re a fan of inspirational romances set in a small close knit town involving a core group of characters, then give this six book series a try.
Get in My Kindle picks I’ve Read: Butterface by Avery Flynn and I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel (I also listened to the audiobook of Remember God by Annie F. Downs, but I’m not counting this as I plan to read the physical copy)


I’ve read a few of Avery Flynn’s other books, and Butterface had the humor and heart I’ve come to expect from her. If you like hot romantic comedies (and the heat level is pretty high on this one), you might like this first book in The Hartigans series. Book two, Muffin Top, is also out now, and book three, Tomboy, will release February 18, 2019.

The books I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2019:

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
You can read my post on this book here.
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
Read my reasons for looking forward to this The Next Right Thing here.

MY BOOK!!!!!
121418_SS Front CoverI’ve been holding this news in for months! If you’re an email subscriber, you might have heard about this book already, but I wanted to officially announce it to my By Her Shelf readers. The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces, my first poetry collection, will be releasing this month! If you’re a fan of poetry, this book is a must have for your collection. More details to come soon!

*Note: I don’t track my progress/read status for every book I read through Goodreads. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I don’t want to share what I’m reading. This post was created using my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics. It’s by no means definitive, but it’s mostly accurate.

Get in My Kindle: The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Good morning, shelfies! How was Thanksgiving for you? Did you get any reading done? My TBR pile is growing much faster than it is shrinking, but I plan to cram in a couple books this weekend to stay on track with my reading challenge for this year and make room for more of the books I’ll be featuring on Get in My Kindle. It’s just so hard to decide what to read next! If you’re struggling with your next move in life–whether it’s what to read next, where to relocate to, what to do with your life, or any decision in between–today’s pick, The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions, might be just the book you need to read.

Title: The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions The Next Right Thing
Author: Emily P. Freeman
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Description: Nothing gets our attention like an unmade decision: Should I accept the new position? Which schooling choice is best for my kids? How can I support my aging parents? When we have a decision to make and the answer isn’t clear, what we want more than anything is peace, clarity, and a nudge in the right direction.

If you have trouble making decisions, because of either chronic hesitation you’ve always lived with or a more recent onset of decision fatigue, Emily P. Freeman offers a fresh way of practicing familiar but often forgotten advice: simply do the next right thing. With this simple, soulful practice, it is possible to clear the decision-making chaos, quiet the fear of choosing wrong, and find the courage to finally decide without regret or second-guessing.

Whether you’re in the midst of a major life transition or are weary of the low-grade anxiety that daily life can bring, Emily helps create space for your soul to breathe so you can live life with God at a gentle pace and discern your next right thing in love.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: I found Emily P. Freeman years ago on a podcast (I believe it was The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey). Since my introduction to her and her work, I’ve listened to Emily on many other podcasts and followed her to Hope*Writers, the writing group she co-founded to help provide writers with the tools they need to succeed at writing, whatever that looks like for them. I’ve read her books, blogs, and newsletters, and I follow her Instagram (and her popular hashtag #itssimplytuesday), but the project of hers that really inspired me is The Next Right Thing podcast.

I was already following Emily when she started talking about pursuing a project that didn’t feel like it wanted to be a book. Eventually that project became The Next Right Thing, and Emily began releasing episodes helping people make decisions by doing–you guessed it!–the next right thing. The reason this struck me wasn’t just because I was interested in podcasting or tend to avoid decision making because I get overwhelmed; it was Emily’s assertion of letting a project tell you what it wants to be, and then just doing the next right thing until the project is fully realized.

I love that this thing that didn’t feel like a book and became a podcast is now going to be the basis for a book. It feels like a full circle moment. I don’t think Emily thought the journey into The Next Right Thing podcast would include writing this book, but I’m happy it did. I’m excited to read this book and learn about decision-making, yes, and there’s no one I can think of who frames simplicity in as flattering and, well, simple a light as Emily, but the thing I am most looking forward to is seeing how the message is translated into the medium of a book.

Affiliate Links
Hardcover:

Kindle: (Link not yet available. Will update ASAP)

Your Turn: How do you make life decisions? Have any podcasts you’d recommend to readers? Any podcasts you’d like to see turned into books?

Currently Reading: Goodreads vs. Reality

If you look on my Goodreads account, it will give you a list of seven books I’m currently reading. (o_O) While I’ve been making more of a concerted effort to keep up with my reading on Goodreads, I have to admit my current reading life bears little resemblance to the list you’ll find there. I wanted to give you a real glimpse into my currently reading list, TBR pile, and recent reads. It’s time to take a look at my real reading life vs. my Goodreads account.

Current Reads: 

The Promise of Home

I recently visited a used book tent at a Flea Market and they were having a 2 for $1 sale on Harlequin’s Love Inspired books, which I love. I bought and devoured Love Finds a Home by Kathryn Springer. I loved it. According to the Dear Reader note, the next book in the series was about one of the secondary characters I really liked, and it had a good hook. Three books later (hello, reading rabbit hole!), I’m reading my fourth book set in Mirror Lake (in less than five days).

 

Born a Crime

This is one I have out from the library. I started reading the first chapter the other day and so far it’s really interesting. I also made a print that says “Just waiting for Trevor Noah to realize he’s my husband,” so there’s that.

 

 

 

Come Matter Here

This one is a bit of a cheat. I’m actually slowing reading through a sample of this book and deciding if I want to borrow it or buy it. I haven’t read much, but it’s pretty good so far, and I’ve heard great things.

 

 

 

Currently Checked Out of the Library:

Born A Crime, referenced in Current Reads. Divided Kingdom is a book a listener suggested on a special episode of What Should I Read Next that has an interesting premise. Close Enough to Touch has been in my Goodreads Want to Read for years, so I requested it. Educated and Vox were my FOMO and Buzz Book picks, respectively.

Recent Purchases:

Along with the second book of the Mirror Lake series referenced above, I also picked up Firestarter and Thinner by Stephen King and Finally a Bride by Renee Andrews at the flea market. There are more Love Inspired Titles, but I can’t remember them right now. I saw a kindle deal for  I’ll Take You There and snapped it up because the Staple Singers’ music makes up a large part of the soundtrack of my childhood, yet I had no clue it “shaped the Civil Rights Era.” I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of Kindle Deals:

I purchased these as kindle deals and have yet to dive into them. I started the first essay in All the Lives I Want but got sidetracked by other books.

Recent Reads:

Series:

I went back and closed the loop in my reading of Julie Miller’s The Precinct series, reading books 4-6, which I’d somehow skipped. As I mentioned in current reads, I bought the second book in the Mirror Lake Series, Love Finds a Home, at a flea market and found books 2, 3, 4, and now 5 on kindle. I read and loved three of the six so far and am currently reading the fourth.

Individual reads:

I read more than category romance this month. Since September 14, I’ve also managed to read I’d Rather be Reading (a Get in My Kindle Pick that turned out to be amazing), I Am I Am I Am (a FOMO book that was well worth the buzz), and Vinegar Girl (a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew that kept me turning the pages and proved to be an enjoyable read).

TBR:

Remember God

In addition to the library books and recent purchases (and books that will inevitably jump the line and demand to be read before what I planned to read), there’s this book, Remember God by Annie F. Downs. I actually listened to the audio book I received as a pre-order bonus, but I don’t think of audio books as reading (I know, this is a hot button issue in the reading world. I’m not saying YOU can’t count them however you want on your Goodreads or in your bullet journal, just that I, personally, don’t count them). I loved hearing Annie tell me her story, but it’s a different experience for me to read the words on the page, and I can’t wait to read it.

Your Turn: Does the reality of your reading life match your Goodreads profile? What are you currently reading? What’s at the top of your TBR pile?

Get in My Kindle: The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Happy Tuesday, fellow shelf-addicts! This week’s Get in My Kindle comes with a bit of a **SPOILER ALERT. THIS IS NOT A TEST OF THE SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM! IT’S A LEGIT SPOILER ALERT WARNING.** If you haven’t read Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven and you want to (trust me, you want you if you haven’t already), then you might want to skip this post and come back to it after you do. If you just can’t wait to know why I’m so excited about The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, I suggest skipping over the Amazon description and going straight to why I’m excited to read. You’ve been warned. **THIS CONCLUDES A LEGIT WARNING FROM THE SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM**

Title: The Next Person You Meet in Heaven The Next Person You Meet in Heaven

Author: Mitch Albom

Release Date: October 9, 2018

*SPOILER ALERT* Description: In this enchanting sequel to the number one bestseller The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom tells the story of Eddie’s heavenly reunion with Annie—the little girl he saved on earth—in an unforgettable novel of how our lives and losses intersect.
Fifteen years ago, in Mitch Albom’s beloved novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the world fell in love with Eddie, a grizzled war veteran- turned-amusement park mechanic who died saving the life of a young girl named Annie. Eddie’s journey to heaven taught him that every life matters. Now, in this magical sequel, Mitch Albom reveals Annie’s story.

The accident that killed Eddie left an indelible mark on Annie. It took her left hand, which needed to be surgically reattached. Injured, scarred, and unable to remember why, Annie’s life is forever changed by a guilt-ravaged mother who whisks her away from the world she knew. Bullied by her peers and haunted by something she cannot recall, Annie struggles to find acceptance as she grows. When, as a young woman, she reconnects with Paulo, her childhood love, she believes she has finally found happiness.
As the novel opens, Annie is marrying Paulo. But when her wedding night day ends in an unimaginable accident, Annie finds herself on her own heavenly journey—and an inevitable reunion with Eddie, one of the five people who will show her how her life mattered in ways she could not have fathomed.

Poignant and beautiful, filled with unexpected twists, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven reminds us that not only does every life matter, but that every ending is also a beginning—we only need to open our eyes to see it.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: Over a decade ago, I sat in my aunt and uncle’s sun room and read The Five People You Meet in Heaven in one sitting. I was captivated by the story of Eddie, the “war vet turned amusement park mechanic,” who dies trying to save a little girl and goes to Heaven. During the course of the book, Eddie meets five people who explain his life to him, people who have, whether or not Eddie has known it, changed his life’s path. Eddie, and the reader, is left wondering if Eddie managed to save the little girl until the end. The book’s portrayal of Heaven and the afterlife serves not only the premise, but the story. I remember being spellbound.

As soon as I saw this book’s title while scrolling on Facebook, I knew two things: this was a sequel to a book I loved reading, and I had to read it. Reading the description and finding out who we’re following on this journey only made me want to read it more.

I have to be honest. I am, by nature, immediately suspicious of sequels to things I loved. I don’t mean series books that are all leading to the epic showdown or reveal, but an honest to goodness sequel. I’m plagued by worries that the author, director, or songwriter is going to release a work that will not only be subpar, but take away from my love of the original. I hope for more than a rehashing or remixing of the same ingredients or another lap around the same track, but I brace myself for a carbon copy that doesn’t quite live up to the original. So it’s a big deal that I’m buzzing about a sequel here.

Unlike millions of people, I never read Tuesdays with Morrie or any of Albom’s other books. He’s not on my auto-buy list. But the memories I have of reading and loving the one book of his I have read makes this a can’t miss book for me. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed this sequel is worth the wait–and a read.

Affiliate Links:

Hardcover:

Kindle:

EVENT ALERT: If you are in the Orlando/Winter Park, FL area on Oct 11, independent bookstore The Writer’s Block will be hosting The Orlando Sentinel’s Unscripted event, a Celebratory Evening with Mitch Albom, at Rollin’s College.

Your Turn: Do you like reading sequels? What’s your favorite sequel or “return” to a specific world or character’s life after a long hiatus? 

Return Reads: The Blue Willow Brides Series by Maggie Brendan


Once upon a time, there was a lovely young woman who fell in love with her father’s humble assistant. This love affair angered the young woman’s father because of the difference in their backgrounds. To keep his daughter from continuing the relationship, the father dismissed the assistant and built a huge fence around his property to keep the young lovers apart. He arranged for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke instead. When the Duke arrived to marry the young woman, he presented her with a box of jewels. On the eve of the wedding, the young assistant disguised himself as a servant, slipped into the house, and escaped with the jewels and the woman he loved. Using the Duke’s ship, the young couple escaped to a secluded island where they lived happily for many years. When the Duke learned of their location, he sent soldiers to capture the couple and put them to death. The gods, touched by their unfortunate situation and the power of their loved, transformed the couple into doves, thus returning them to freedom.

Lovely tale, isn’t it? This is the story, behind the Blue Willow china pattern that became popular in 18th century England.

Blue Willow China

It’s also the inspiration behind a series of books I recently rediscovered buried deep in my kindle library.

The Blue Willow Brides series by Maggie Brendan follows three sisters as they immigrate from Holland to the wilds of the western territory of America to become mail order brides. Each sister has a love of blue willow china, its meaning held deep in their hearts. That love surrounds each of the three books in the series and is enough to make anyone want to start collecting the delicate pattern.

Maggie Brendan writes genuinely vivid characters and journeys that leave readers feeling satisfied with the happy ending they crave. Her stories deal with the trials – and sometimes humor – that comes from navigating romantic relationships without succumbing to traditional romance tropes. It’s no wonder her novels have won many awards.

Rediscovering her series and rereading them much later into the night than I expected reminded me how much I love her writing! I’ve since downloaded several of her other books that I plan to read this autumn when the weather gives me a perfect excuse to curl up with a good book. Check out Maggie’s Blue Willow Brides series and I promise you’ll be reading it (and rereading it) late into the night, too!

We’d love to hear your views on rereading. Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?

#ReadWhatYouOwn September

Hola, fellow book lovers! This week has been super busy for me, and it’s not over yet! While I’m finishing this month helping two independent authors publish their books and sneaking in a few pages of my current read here and there, I’m already thinking about what I will be able to read with a less rigorous schedule next month. While perusing some #bookstagram pics, I came across a challenge that might peak your readerly interest. It certainly has my vote!

If you’re an avid reader, chances are, like me, you have several books in your house that you haven’t read yet (even though you’re probably chomping at the bit for that new book at the bookstore, or the one coming to your doorstep or kindle soon!). Despite my best intentions, and my desire to read them, many of these books fall by the wayside in favorite of a hot new release of find. Whether it’s because the book requires more thought than I can give it right now or I’m just not in the right mood, many books in my house have gone unread.

If this sounds like you, Instagram user @anovelfamily has a challenge you might want to try next month. #readwhatyouown is a challenge to, well, read books you already own. There are two ways to participate: commit to reading 2 books you already own in September or commit to reading only books you already own in September. Use the hashtag #readwhatyouown to join other participants. Be sure to follow @anovelfamily and give this account credit for the challenge. Easy peasy.

I believe I have over 50 books I already own that I could read this month (o_O), so I’m going to participate. I am also counting books I pre-ordered that I’ll get in September. Once I choose those I want to read, I’ll post a pretty picture here and on Instagram so you can see what I (and my co-contributors, if they’re game!) will attempt to read in September.

Your turn: Are you participating in #readwhatyouown? What books would you read for this challenge?