Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A Book Review: We Are Gathered Here

    For the first time on this blog, I'm reviewing a read from my top favorite author! Erynn Mangum's style of writing is super fun and enticing, and reading one of her novellas is a great way to see whether her more full-length works would be a good pick for you. The book I'm featuring is one of two novella collections she's published (the other one Christmas-themed), and they definitely have a Hallmark vibe to them. 

    This review has no spoilers.

    (The discussion questions will have spoilers, since they are supposed to be used after reading the book.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Book Review: Ginger Pye

    I'm really excited for this week's post, because I'm reviewing a much-loved (as well as a personal) favorite in the world of children's literature. This is a bit of an older tale, but no less wonderful and well written! 

    This review does contain one major spoiler, but it's very vaguely touched on and doesn't offer any information that would actually ruin the ending.

    (The discussion questions will have spoilers, since they are supposed to be used after reading the book.)

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Book Review: The Rebellion

     Hi! Today I'm thrilled to be officially reviewing The Rebellion, the sequel to Livy Jarmusch's awesome book The Coronation and one of the books I've featured in a past #IMWAYR. Like I did for my first review of the book, I noted some of the issues that Lindsey from Books for Christian Girls put in her review, and mentioned them in my post too. 

    This review has no spoilers!

    (The discussion questions will have spoilers, since they are supposed to be used after reading the book.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Liebster Award...My Questions and Answers (also includes a very special announcement!)


    Hi, everyone! A week ago Laurel Jean nominated me for the Liebster Award, and I thought the idea was so fun I wanted to post about it right away! I hope that you'll enjoy this challenge as much as me. Who knows...maybe we'll find something in common other than books!  

    Here are the official rules:

1. First, thank the person who nominated you, include a link to their blog, and add the Liebster Award badge to your blog and/or post.

2. Next answer the eleven questions from the person who nominated you.
3. Give eleven random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 5-11 fellow bloggers with less than 200 followers.
5. Notify your nominees that you nominated them for the Liebster Award.
6. Last but not least, ask your nominees eleven questions.

1. First of all, a huge thank you to Laurel Jean for letting me know about this and nominating me! Go check out her blog HERE. You won't regret it, it's awesome 😁

2. Below are my answers to the questions. It's sort of like a mini-interview, so I structured it like one!

How did you choose the name for your blog?

I decided to name my blog Stepping Stones Book Reviews because I liked the analogy that good books are stepping stones in life. We read them, and use them (in a way) to steady ourselves as we travel through whatever's been thrown at us. Literature at its best can inspire us, give us new perspectives, and emotionally propel us through hard times and difficult decisions, which I think is really cool! I hope that through this blog I can recommend books that are not only well written in terms of prose, theme, character development, and voice, but that will also be worth taking the time to read. (The "book reviews" part is pretty self-explanatory.)

If you could work any job for one week, what job would it be, and why?

I would definitely become a traditionally published author. I think the experience in and of itself could be rewarding, and it would give me a "what to expect" if I decided to pursue that kind of career in the future.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from blogging?

I think blogging has been a great way for me to become more consistent with my writing, and in general a way to interact with the awesome book blogging community. Everyone on here has been so supportive and has introduced me to some really great reads! I've also been able to promote and learn more about authors through blogging that I wouldn't be able to through in-person meetings, so I guess I'd say my answer is I've learned how blogging can open new opportunities for people to connect.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

My ideal weekend would be waking up at 8 or 9 AM, heading to the library to return and check out books, and spending the rest of the day inside, curled up in my living room alternating between actually reading and watching movies and TV shows. 

Do you set goals for the New Year?

In the past I have...more "things I want to do" than actual resolutions, though. For the first time this year I've chosen a focus word instead of making resolutions, hoping to learn more and experience it throughout 2021. My word for this year is "peace", so if you have any advice or book recommendations on that subject, please send them my way!

What is the best book (aside from the Bible) that you’ve read, and why do you think so?

There are a million books that I could name that have impacted me in unforgettable ways, but right now I'm going to name Gene Edwards' The Silas Diary. The storytelling was vivid and the story themes were powerful, but what really got to me was how human all the characters in it seemed. Paul, Silas, and Timothy, to name a few Acts figures, look larger-than-life to me so often that I forget that they were people too. It was incredible to be able to live through some of the most famous missionary journeys in the Bible in the light of "ordinary men and women doing the extraordinary through Him." Seeing their passion and sacrifices for Christ was humbling and inspiring at the same time. I reviewed this book when the blog was first starting out and you can find my post about it HERE

What was the best thing that happened to you in 2020?

This isn't exactly a "fun" event, but I'd have to say my major jaw surgery in the middle of September. I was originally supposed to have it in June, but the pandemic pushed all my appointments and scheduling way back. The recovery was (and still is!) long, but I was just glad my COVID test before the surgery came back negative and that I was able to get it all over with.

Which historical figure do you most admire, and why?

Ooh, this is a tough one! There are so many I could choose, but I'm going to spotlight Abigail Adams. Reading Natalie S. Bober's biography on her in late 2020 gave me a new, stunning appreciation for her strength of character. She went through some really hard stuff, yet she always remained true to fighting for America, in her own way. I also admire her and John Adams' relationship; despite the unreliability and slowness of communicating through letters, they were still able to have a fulfilling, happy life together.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years?

Ideally? I'm not sure! I have a wide variety of hopes and dreams, some of which are becoming a published author, having a story or creativity-based career, starting a family and/or adopting, traveling to Europe, and being able to live on my own. I'm not sure how any of it is going to turn out, but it would be amazing if any of those were to come true!

If you knew that today was your last day on earth, how would you spend it?

I believe that God has put me in the place I am in life to serve His purpose, so I think I would try an Internet/writing fast, and truly try to experience what He's given me for the last time. Just, overall, strive to have an eternal mindset and unselfishly love, which is something I struggle to do.

What is your favorite Bible verse, and why?

My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 139: 1-6 (honestly, all of Psalm 139!). I love reading and hearing that passage because it reminds me of how powerful God is, and yet how much He cares for me. It gives me a sense of comfort that He is in control, He knows everything about me, and He will continue to guide me.

3. My eleven random facts are below:
  • I don't like carbonated drinks. Soda or sparkling water? No can do.
  • I credit Erin Hunter's Warriors series for getting me serious about writing.
  • I have a strong addiction to fanfiction. Especially when it comes to movies and TV shows. I love getting to see what may be going through the characters' heads!
  • Someday I'd love to visit the Palace of Versailles.
  • My all-time favorite music artist is Hannah Kerr. 
  • My favorite episode from Season 1 of The Chosen is "Jesus Loves the Little Children." It was so fun to watch and had a ton of emotional symbolism.
  • My family has watched all the sci-fi "star" shows: Star Wars, Star Trek, and Stargate. (My favorite is Stargate, then Star Trek, then Star Wars.)
  • I'm not a huge Marvel/DC fan, but I loved Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse.
  • I love the Shelby Holmes series because it represents Type 1 Diabetes well, which several of my family members have. 
  • I actually liked how How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ended.
  • I've noticed that in girl-guy-guy love triangles there's three character tropes: 1) the emotionally torn girl, 2) the witty, charming, charismatic guy, and 3) the steadier, sensitive, moodier guy. Strange. Is that a must in all love triangles? 

4. To pass this prompt on, I'm tagging:

Five is pretty self-explanatory, so I'll move on to the last part!

6.  Below are my questions for each nominee:
  • What was your goal/purpose when you first started blogging? Do you feel that goal or purpose has changed in any way?
  • What's your favorite part about blogging?
  • What's your go-to comfort snack? Why?
  • If you could go see any movie in a movie theater, what would you want to see and why?
  • Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or a mixture of both?
  • Who's your favorite music artist?
  • What's a funny memory from when you were a little kid?
  • Are you a morning or night person? 
  • If you could immediately learn to speak any new language, which one would you choose? Why?
  • If you could donate a million dollars to any charity or nonprofit organization, which one would you pick?
  • What's the best thing you've learned from 2020?

    Thanks for joining me for this special post! I hope you enjoyed reading my answers and responses as much as I enjoyed writing them.

    What about you? What would your answers be to the questions (either for me or by me)? Do we share any of the opinions in my eleven random facts? Have you visited any of the blogs I tagged before? If so, what did you think about their posts?

    I also wanted to include a very special announcement in this post. One of my fellow young writers, Eliana Duran, is hosting a short story contest for 9-13 year olds. The prizes are pretty sweet, including Amazon gift cards up to $50, custom crocheted hats, and a full set of Green Ember books autographed by S.D. Smith. If you're interested and in the age range, feel free to join! If you aren't, feel free to pass the invitation on to someone that might be interested. You can find all the information needed to enter HERE.

    Next week, stay tuned for my latest review, featuring a book from one of my new favorite series...