My Attempt at Minimalism

As an avid book reader, I have collected numerous books throughout my years. My books formally resided in a place of honor: on display in a stylish modern cube shelving system, grouped by subject matter. But having moved twice in 2018 and with the hope of moving again in 2019, they are now all packed up in boxes.

I love my books and I can, without a doubt, say that they “spark joy” when I hold them. I definitely own more than the 30 books minimalist guru Marie Kondo suggests and with her new Netflix series being all the rage these days, I decided to rethink my massive book collection. Ever the penny-pincher, I decided to go online and see what sites would give me the best deals for my books. I was sure making some cash off my books would definitely help in the letting go process.

My searching led me to many sites that buy up used textbooks but there were a few sites that bought novels too. One of the sites that seemed promising was Half-Price Books. The only problem was that you have to bring your books into a physical book store and there wasn’t a Half-Price Books near me. The site seemed pretty cool, however, so I spent a few minutes looking around. And that’s when I got completely derailed.

See, Half-Price Books has a “free gifts” section to their site where they have all sorts of cool book swag for FREE! All you have to do is pay shipping. So what do I do? I order up a free literary book button. Shipping was a whopping .59 cents.

As soon as I completed paying for shipping, my baby woke up and the quest to minimize my belongings and earn a few extra dollars ended. The pin arrived within a week and I happy to say that it “sparks joy” too.


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Book Review: Silence by Natasha Preston

It’s not often you come across a book where the main character is mute as is the case in Natasha Preston’s Silence. Oakley Ferrell has been silenced by an unspeakable horror and it isn’t until she finds strength from the unconditional love and support of the boy next door that she is able to name her monster.

The way the author is able to give voice to her voiceless character throughout the novel is truly amazing. Oakley communicates through nods, smiles, frowns, head shakes, and grimaces alone. No words uttered or written yet the exchanges she has with her family, school mates, and Cole are still conversational. Writing a character with such a handicap surely must have been a challenge and yet Preston makes it work.

Another interesting aspect to Silence is the contrast between it being a light-hearted teen romance to the very dark and serious theme of child abuse. Many scenes which should be fun-an ice cream date, a couples’ massage in Italy- are soon marred by foreshadowing of Oakley’s big secret. Because of this dichotomy, the book can sometimes be uncomfortable to read.

Fans of Preston’s Silence will delight in knowing that while  the book concludes with a satisfying ending Silence is the first of a 4 book series which readers can check out at their local library.

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2019 Reading Goals

The new year is around the corner which means it’s time to set up some new year’s resolutions! As a person completely fascinated with the written word, I doubtlessly will be making resolutions centered around reading.

While some people like to set a number of books to read, I like my goals to be a bit more nuanced than a number. Setting reading goals around a number, tends to focus the goal on mere consumption and as Edmund Burke once said, ” to read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” Will it benefit me to read 100 pictures books in an hour?

What I really want to do is find and complete a reading challenge list. There are so many of them out there and they look like a lot of fun! I mean, just look at this list of lists:

12 of the Best 2018 Reading Challenges for Adults

I could, alternatively, write my own list. If I were to write my own list, I would like to stick to a theme of some sort. Maybe I could create an “Around the World” book challenge list with stories that take place in other countries. That might be fun. 🙂

In addition to making resolutions about the books I will read, I’d also like to make resolutions focused around reading too. Discussing books is so rewarding and satisfying, perhaps I should add “join a book club” to my list too. I currently am part of a local mom’s book club in my community but it never hurts to branch out and try new clubs.

Finally, bringing it back to my good friend Burke, I want to resolve to become a better consumer of literature. I make plenty of mental notes while I read, but perhaps it is time to invest in a little notebook for the ideas that pop in my head while I read.

So, what about you? Are you making any reading resolutions this year? What do your reading goals look like for 2019?


1000 Books Before Kindergarten

In today’s post, I would like to highlight a wonderful reading program called, “1000 Books Before Kindergarten.” I came across it on Twitter as someone proudly “tweeted” an adorable photo of their cute, dimpled baby next to a couple of books and the hashtag #1000BooksB4K.

As the name of the program suggests, the goal is to get parents and caregivers to read at least 1000 books to their children before their child enters school. It seems like a daunting task but one sees how achievable the goal really is after breaking down the numbers:

1 book every night x 365 days a year= 365 books

365 books a year x 3 years= 1,095 books

Why is this program so important? Read what the 1000 Books Foundation says:

Depending upon where you live, public education is only provided over an age range starting between five (5) and eight (8). However, numerous studies have established that by age three (3), a child’s brain has reached 80 percent of its adult volume. The brain develops most rapidly during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. A toddler’s brain creates up to two million new connections every second. Early experiences and interactions are a key factor in a child’s brain development. The ability to learn language skills is greatest before the age of six (6). Early literacy skills have a lifelong impact on educational and occupational success.  The most important predictor of school success is being read to at home during early childhood

So, what are you waiting for? If you have a tiny human in your life, head to your nearest library. You’ll find everything you need to complete this very important challenge.

Book Review: True Places by Sonja Yoerg

A book about a woman who finds and rescues a girl who has been living in the woods shouldn’t be terrifying, but True Places scared the living daylights out of me several times. It wasn’t because it was a horror book either.

What Sonja Yoerg, author of House Broken, Middle of Somewhere, and All the Best People, does in True Places  is nothing short of amazing. With her beautiful prose and attention to detail, Yoerg paints the picture of who we are after we’ve let down our defenses and at times, it isn’t pretty.

And yet, even as the novel begs for each of it’s characters to come face to face with hard truths, it is a novel full of hope and redemption. Yoerg shows us through her characters’ personal journeys that sometimes taking a different road than the one planned can yield more good than any meticulously laid out plan.

10 Questions with Dana Stoica

The importance of raising generous and kindhearted children does not escape most parents today and those searching for tools to reinforce those values need not look further than to Dana Stoica’s Generosity Book Collection. Her books talk about the importance of generosity in our life and include a parents’ corner that talks about the most important gifts that parents can give to their young ones: the gift of dreaming big, the gift of believing in yourself, the gift of joy.

In addition to being a great resource for families, Stoica has pledged that a majority portion of book royalties be donated to Saint Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

After reviewing these wonderful books, I wanted to learn a little bit more about Stoica so I caught up to her and asked her to answer 10 author questions.

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1.What books have had the biggest influence on your life?

Some of the most powerful reading memories of my life are:  The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was captivated by the imagination, compassion, and touch of fantasy that this book awakened in me as a child.

Another iconic book was Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. I felt a strong bond with the book character, with his dedication to pursue his dreams, overcome weaknesses and treat others with respect no matter of the circumstances.

Recently I got extremely inspired by “The Power of Now” – Eckhart Tolle, an extraordinary reading that gets you connected to the indestructible essence of being in the moment.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

Writing a children book does not necessary take a lot of time. What takes time though is coming up with a meaningful and relevant book concept and message that can have a positive impact in the reader’s life.

3. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

The “Generosity Book Collection” has a very specific and clear thematic and it aims to create an organic platform that gives children and parents the opportunity to talk about the importance of giving and kindness. I did not do any research per say for this collection. It is my perpetual intention to promote life values that raise awareness about how we can make a positive difference in our own life and in the life of others.

4. How many hours a day do you write?

I write every time the inspiration and the creativity flow in. It can be anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple of hours, days…

5. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I intend to give a dual purpose to my books. The stories are dedicated to the children while the parents will also have an exclusive message as a take away. What I like to spend a lot of time on is on how to create the synergy between the children story and the message for the parents in order to ensure that this unique reading experience has a significant meaning and it can make a positive difference.

6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I was pleasantly surprised by how the power of illustrations can give words a completely different dimension. It was also extremely interesting to see through my daughters’ eyes and understand how they perceive my stories and the message that hides behind them.

7. How do you define success?

For me success is the equivalent of happiness, well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

8. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

One of my best author friend was my grandmother who inspired me and encouraged me to write from an early age. She understood from the first minute that for me writing is like breathing: it comes very natural and it reflects my way to communicate with the world.

9. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love spending time with my family and creating meaningful memories. I also love horses and exploring the world.

10. What message do you have for young artists and writers who are following in your footsteps?

I recently read Elisabeth Gilbert’s book: Big Magic – Creative living beyond fear. She describes in a very realistic way the challenges that young authors have to face nowadays.

I strongly believe that if your passion is writing, you should pursue it all the way up to the end while maintaining a pragmatic approach to the everyday life.

Wedding at a library?

When published a piece declaring Seattle Public Library the most beautiful library according to an Instagram survey conducted by online bookstore Wordery, it got me thinking about whether a library would be a suitable place for a wedding. The Seattle Public Library may have won the informal title of most beautiful library, but there are so many gorgeous libraries throughout the world I bet quite a few of them would be the perfect backdrop for a wedding.

As it turns out weddings at libraries have been done before and they can be absolutely stunning. Pinterest is full of library wedding boards and there are hundreds of photos  on Instagram under the tag #librarywedding.

As I scoured the web for information about weddings in libraries I compiled a list of places definitely worth looking at. Check out my list of top 5 libraries that are available as wedding venues:

1. The Signet Library in Edinburgh, Scotland
2. George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland
3. Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Kansas
4. Spanish River Library in Boca Raton, Florida
5. Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois

So, what about you?  What do you think about having a wedding in a library? Do you love the idea of starting the next chapter of your life in a place surrounded by great stories or would you rather something a bit more traditional?

read wood white antique flower old reading band spring collection romance romantic stack pink map antler roses worn transience literature books stacked shabby postcard bound lying historically tender greeting card stories used rose flower antiquariat pink roses used books old books shabby chic wrapped up flacon linen ribbon white books heart bottle shabby style




5 Questions with Nancy M. Berrios, children’s author, illustrator & creator of Visibly Present Imagery

Indie author and illustrator, Nancy M. Berrios has a new book coming out: 15 MINUTES THAT MATTER: Raising Up A Wonderful Generation. In light of her upcoming book release, I’ve caught up with Berrios and asked her to answer a few questions about her life as a creative.

1. What books have had the biggest influence on your life?

I tend to read the kind of books that will inspire, motivate, or challenge me to get out of my comfort zone and move me in the direction of improving myself intellectually, personally, and spiritually.

2. How do you define success?

Success is when someone shares with me that I am inspiring them to pursue their own dream of wanting to become creative too.

3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The artistic process can be a rather lonely experience. However, it is all worth it. Take into consideration that it will not happen if you do not make time for it. This requires discipline and intentionality. Creative expressions do not materialize out of thin air. It begins with removing all distractions. Get ready to spend a lot of time in isolation.

4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing…
I love to spend time reading, sharing life with others, (I love long heart to heart conversations) traveling, exercising, and most importantly, on soul care.

5. What message do you have for young artists and writers who are following in your footsteps?

Stay true to your purpose and inspiration. Others might try to change or influence your message, especially if what you are doing is challenging them or breaking down their own paradigms. Be ready for rejection, criticism, and a lack of vision for what you do. Many creatives have shared ideas that are ahead of their times. However, remember this: History has proven that the pen is mightier than the sword and that it is art that imitates life.

Author contact information:


Twitter: @visiblypresent




YA Fiction Book Review: Along for the Ride by Katrina Abbott

Boy bands, best friends, and beach getaways: the ingredients to a fabulous YA weekend read. This weekend I read  Along for the Ride  by Katrina Abbott and was glad I did.

The book was perfect escapism as only a book where the main character is the rich daughter of a famous and successful musician and producer can be and yet, Vanessa is a level-headed and relatable character. I found myself rooting for her as she gets more and more involved with the musicians she hates and wanting to know more of her backstory. While some of her backstory is hinted at throughout the book, the novel concludes with unanswered questions, presumably to be answered in the following books of the Rosewood Rock Star Series.

One of the most interesting parts I found about this novel is revealing the behind-scenes process of putting together and producing boy bands. It provides and interesting and fun setting for the romantic story line.

The romantic thread itself is also well done. The relationship between Vanessa and Willmont Davidson progresses organically, although the conclusion to the novel and their relationship ends on a cliff hanger. I’m curious to see what will happen in book 2.

If you’re looking for a fun, clean, YA series don’t hesitate to check out The Rosewoods Rock Star Series. I thoroughly enjoyed Along for a Ride and I’m sure you will too.

Along for the Ride (The Rosewoods Rock Star Series Book 1) by [Abbott, Katrina]

The Bibliophile’s Guide to Christmas Shopping

Most bibliophiles I know not only love books but feel compelled to share that love with those around them. Christmas and it’s tradition of gift-giving therefore presents the perfect opportunity for book lovers to gift with literacy in mind. Below is a guide for Christmas shopping bibliophile style!

Support your local library

Most libraries have at least a nook in their library, if not a whole room, dedicated to reselling books no longer in circulation. The books are usually in excellent condition and proceeds from sales go to support the library!

Book Wear

Who says you only have to buy books to share your love of reading? How about some Edgar Allen Poe socks or these super cute book earrings?

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Totes and bags

Your bookish friends will appreciate a new book tote bag with this Jane Austen quote on it.

Jane Austen Quotation Tote Bag

Mug them

Combine books and coffee for a perfect gift. My favorite literary mug? This first lines literature mug from PBS.

First Lines Literature Mug

Donation gift giving

For the friend who has it all, the minimalist, or the philanthropist,  consider making a donation to the World Literacy Foundation. This global not-for-profit organization works to lift young people out of poverty through the power of literacy.

The gift that keeps on giving

For maximum impact, you might give a year long book subscription box. For as little as $5.58 a month, the lucky gift recipient will receive a monthly box with books! Subscription box programs vary greatly to tailor to different audiences and tastes. My favorite? Apostrophe Box Deluxe delivers one new hardcover book, one full-sized bag of coffee, one usable item, one small snack, plus Apostrophe Box swag once a month. Genre varies monthly and is announced via email/social media.

The non-gift

And because some people are on really tight budgets, there is always the non-gift Christmas book gift: a library book.

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