Books I Read in 2015

This is another one of those posts where I reflect on some of the things that I accomplished this year. In my last post I reflected on my top 5 posts of the year and discussed what about each post made it appealing to my readers. Today, I want to take a look back at all of the books I read in 2015, most of which I already reviewed here on the blog.

Devotional Books:

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst

David by Beth Moore

 

Writing Books:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Blog Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

51zVIlkxZsL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_

Other Books:

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

To read any of my reviews of these books check out my Book Category on the blog.

Just a couple of days ago I finished my last book of 2015, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

This book is set in modern day Botswana. Immediately I fell in love with the African setting. I don’t often choose books about Africa. It’s relatively unfamiliar territory to me, but I found myself really beginning to appreciate the land and way of life as described in this book.

Precious Ramotswe is the protagonist of this story. She is a highly intelligent and well-educated woman who decides to use her inheritance to establish the first ever female detective agency due to her desire to help people.

This book is fabulously written and the author does a spendid job at introducing the backstory of each of the characters.

Throughout the book Mma. Ramotswe begins to have some high profile customers and cases and becomes a very successful detective. As a reader I enjoyed the way that each chapter contained a case as it helped to establish a quick pace to the book.

Toward the end, I would have liked a little more explanation about why Mma. Ramotswe makes certain decisions, but I guess that’s why Alexander McCall Smith decided to create a series off of this story line.

I would definitely read another book from this series because a reunion with the unique and beautiful setting and with the wonderful cast of characters would be ideal after the way that this book ends.

images (1)

In 2016 I will be hosting and taking part in a 24 Book Challenge to widen my exposure to literature both new and old. I would love if you would take that challenge along with me. Please take a look at my post, 24 Book Challenge, for more details and consider being a part of a community of readers who are striving to read their way through the new year.

Happy New Year!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Most Memorable Posts of 2015

2015 has been a great year for me. Last year I set some high goals for myself involving my desire to write. I began this blog by February and have made major headway in my independent pursuit of writing. As I look back on the year I’m so grateful for this platform which God has used to reach so many people.

I am going to take a look back at my Top 5 posts of 2015.

1.Stitch Fix #2

This memorable post is a look into the products/services provided by Stitch Fix. In this post I go into detail about my personal experience and why I continue to use Stitch Fix.

IMG_1776

2. Church in the Living Room

I just posted this over the weekend, but the stats soared almost immediately. In this post I explain how my church took a digital approach to Vision Sunday and some of the challenges given by pastor to the congregation of Covenant Church in Grove City, Ohio.

DSC00020

3. Motivating Momma: Autumn

For Mother’s Day this year I did an interview series. I found some mothers that I looked up to and had them answer some questions for me. Autumn was one of those mothers. I met Autumn through blogging and her story is so moving. Through all her trials Autumn has remained a positive influence in the blog-o-sphere. You can follow her writing on Welcome to My World.

025[1]

4. A Trial Run in Fiction Writing

I’ve been writing short stories for years, but this year I published some of my writings on this blog for the world to see for the first time. I’ve learned a lot since this first trial run (it’s a bit rough), but it’s a good reflection of where I’ve been and where I’m headed in 2016.

5. Date Jar (Week 1) Family Campout

Last winter, when we were tempted as a family to spend all of our time at home we set up a family Date Jar and for seven weeks I chronicled our dates around the Columbus metro area (with a bonus trip to NYC). Something similar is in the works for 2016 so stay tuned.

IMG_0301

 

Thanks for a memorable year for The Ameri Brit Mom blog. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of blogging from the perspective of mother, teacher, writer, wife, and friend. I’m looking forward to spending 2016 with you!

The Ameri Brit Mom

24 Book Challenge

Christmas is over and this year is coming to a close. For 2016, I have set a goal of reading 24 books from various authors and genres. I feel like it is so easy to get in the rut of just reading best sellers because they are easy to find, but this year I want to introduce myself to books beyond the norm. I want to dig a little further into the world of literature and so I’ve decided to create a book challenge.

Below is my 24 book challenge that I’ve developed for 2016. If you wish to join me in the journey I’d love to hear from you. Write about books you’ve read in the comments section of my posts or copy links to your own book reviews this year. I look forward to reading through 2016 with you!

Book Challenge 2016

The Rules:

  1. You don’t have to read the books in order, but I will be trying to do so. I know that sometimes you come across a book you want to read right then and there so as long as you read all 24 at some point in 2016 then it still counts.
  2. Unless stated on the challenge page try to stay away from current best-sellers in order to enrich your exposure to literature.
  3. Each time you read a book from the challenge either review the book in a comment, send me an email with a review, or if you are also a blogger post your book review on your blog and send me a link.
  4. The 24 Book Challenge ends December 31, 2016.

Happy Reading!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Church in the Living Room

DSC00019.JPG

This morning our church, Covenant Church in Grove City, Ohio, decided to hold an online service. Instead of gathering in our normal house of worship (an AMC theater) we met across the country in our living rooms, hotel rooms, and guest bedrooms. So many people were traveling over the holiday weekend and it allowed us an opportunity to stay connected despite the distances.

As you can see in the picture above the Sisley family participated in the service amidst putting away our Christmas gifts. In the left hand corner you can even see Arianna playing while Mom and Dad were plugged in to the service. It was a really cool concept and I enjoyed sipping on hot coffee while worshipping and digging into God’s Word. Virtual church is where it’s at!

Today the pastor of our church set out a pretty big challenge for the congregation.

Every year the last Sunday is spent discussing the vision of the church for the upcoming year. In 2015 our vision was Training to Run. We spent the year focusing on learning and equipping members of the church for what was to come. For 2016, our church vision is about getting involved and owning the gifts that God has given us through Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors, and teachers.

Pastor Travis has challenged each member of the church to take a 21 day fast to pray for the church, its vision, and their role within that vision. Church was never created to be run by one man. We all should play and active part in the building of the church.

I’m really excited about where the church is headed and how God may use my family to reach others. I know that God has gifted me in certain areas, but I look forward to hearing from him about how he specifically wants to use me in 2016 for the growth of His kingdom.

If you would like to view the online service for Covenant Church it will be streaming live again at 11am and 6pm.  Use the link www.covenenatchurchonline.com to tune in.

 

 

 

Fan Mail Murder-Draft 2

The following is draft 2 of my short story I’ve written for the contest First Anniversary Beginning Writer. During the first round of submissions I learned many things about the art of short story writing. I’ve done research and reworked the story giving it a new spin and trying to fit it into the genre of short story.

Quite a few things have changed in draft 2 including the title of this story. I’d appreciate feedback. My final draft is due on December 29 and I am looking to put the finishing touches on right after Christmas. I welcome any advice or comments. The theme for this contest is creatives (the main character must be a writer, painter, or poet.)

Fan Mail Murder

By Lauren Sisley 2015

It was a cool, Tuesday morning and the body of Detective Alton Snow was found under an overpass outside of Trenton, New Jersey. A knife had been driven into his mid-section and blood had soaked through his undercover outfit  and stained the rocks below him. Detective Patel, his partner had been called to the scene. She took one look at the body and shouted at the police chief in the distance, “Please bring in Ms. Rae Windsor to the station for questioning.” The chief looked confused as he pulled out his phone.

“The author?” The chief questioned.

“Yes, Chief.” Patel would not rest until Ms. Windsor paid for what she had done. The morbid woman had been making a living on writing about murders by creating them first herself. Detective Snow was convinced of this and now he had become one of the  victims. With great remorse Patel hopped back into her cruiser and made her way to the station in Manhattan for the interrogation of Ms. Rae Windsor.

“Writing has always come naturally to me. I don’t think, I write. As far back as I can remember I knew that I would one day be a writer.” Rae spoke to Patel. She was seated on a stiff metal chair. Rae Windsor was responding to a question about how she began her career as an author.

Patel sat across a narrow wooden table from the suspect. She was armed with a yellow steno pad and a thin, black fountain pen. Her skin was a dark shade of caramel and her hair was the purest black.

“Ms. Windsor, let’s begin with why you are here.” Patel redirected Rae.

“Yes, the ridiculous accusations.” Rae Windsor spoke sharply. “What would you like to know?”

“Ms. Windsor, we are both aware of why you have been brought in. Let’s talk first about Mr. Snow. How did you know the victim?” Patel made eye contact with the large decorated officer seated near the door to the office. He nodded at her and began to sip at the coffee in a styrofoam cup in his large clumsy hands.

“About a month ago I started a pen pal relationship with Mr. Snow. I was going about my daily business sorting through my mail. Amongst the stacks of bills and fan mail I found an envelope which stood out to me. It was addressed with my name and the penmanship looked very much like my own. Inside I found a letter from a man named Alton Snow.” Rae recalled.

“And what did the initial letter from Mr. Snow say?” Patel questioned.

“In his letter he praised my newest novel which he had placed in his collection in Nebraska. He talked of his library and the six thousand volumes housed in his small cottage home.  In his first letter he stated his affinity for the vivid details that I used in my books when I discussed crime scenes.” Rae answered.

“Okay, tell me a little bit more about last night. Were you with Mr. Snow?” Patel pushed. Rae looked at the blackened window across the room. Being a murder mystery author she was well-aware of the fact that on the other side of the glass sat a number of officers waiting. Within seconds of an incriminating testimony they would bust through the door beside the hefty officer in the corner and have her in custody reading her the Miranda Rights. She began to tread lightly as she recounted yesterday’s events.

“He had come to visit me that day, yes. It was an unexpected visit. I was at home when there was a knock on my apartment door. I was sitting at my desk in the living room and extremely bothered by the guest who had arrived and interrupted my writing.

“I opened the door and found myself greeted by a short, balding, middle-aged man with spectacles half the size of his face and a bright bouquet of flowers in his rough and calloused hands.

‘Ms. Windsor, My name is Alton Snow. How very nice to make your acquaintance.’ Mr. Snow put his hands out and after a few seconds of apprehension I decided to accept his commodity and placed my polished hand in his. We shook and for a moment I wondered what to do next. I decided to let him enter my apartment.

‘I have waited so long to meet you, Ms. Windsor. So many of your novels and short stories make me feel like I know you already.’ He said.

‘Is there something I can do for you, Mr. Snow?’  I asked, again wary of his unwarranted presence in my apartment complex. He began to make small talk combing through my apartment. His clothing pressing into my suede sofa caused my pulse to race. He made himself comfortable while I felt the opposite. As he took a seat on the sofa I caught a glimpse of something shiny in his pocket.

‘Would you like a drink?’ I asked my guest.

‘I would indeed, thank you, Ms. Windsor.’ Alton crossed his right leg across his knee. He laid the flowers on the coffee table in front of the couch and smiled back at me. Something within me began to sense that he had arrived in my apartment with ulterior motives.

“I made my way back to the kitchen to pour Mr. Snow a glass of water from the pitcher. We talked for a few minutes about a manuscript I was working on and then he left.”

“Ms. Windsor were you aware that Mr. Snow was an officer?” Patel looked up from her steno pad.

“Not until I was brought in. I was briefed on what was going on during the ride over.” Rae admitted. The officer in the corner stopped drinking his coffee and sat up straight. Rae felt the eyes of more than just Patel and the officer on her as she spoke.

“Mr. Snow was working undercover on a case he built himself. He was honest when he said that he was a fan. Mr. Snow was one of the most literary men on this task force. Recently, he had spoken about the cunning resemblance between some of your novels and several unsolved murders in the city. He was commissioned to visit your apartment that day to gather evidence.” Patel explained the motives of the now deceased officer.

Before Rae could respond to this new information there was a knock on the door. Patel stood up from the table and straightened her black blazer as she walked toward the door. A man on the other side of the door peeked his head in and whispered something to the detective. Patel tried not to show any emotion as she was informed of new evidence in the case, but Rae caught the raise of her right eyebrow. Rae’s palms began to sweat as she feared her ride to the top as an author was coming to an end. The door shut and Patel made her way back to the table this time not taking a seat across from Rae, but rather leaning onto the table with both arms fully extended.

“Ms. Windsor, it appears that some new evidence in the case had just surfaced. You said that you were sitting at your desk when Officer Snow came to visit? On that desk were you working on a manuscript for a new novel?” Patel questioned knowing full well the correct answer.

“I was, yes.”

“Was anyone else aware of this manuscript?” Patel asked. Rae’s pulse was racing. She swallowed hard.

“Just myself. I was to have the final draft to my publisher by the end of the week.”

“Please explain to me the crime committed in this novel.” Patel questioned a straight-lined smile replacing her stone-cold glare.

“A good author never reveals the plot of their story. You will have to read for yourself when the story is released.”

“Well, I don’t know if that will be necessary. One of my colleagues has combed through the manuscript and just informed me of its contents. What name have you chosen for this novel, Ms. Windsor?” Patel asked.

“I have not yet settled on a title.” Rae answered.

“Well, how about this one: The Fan Mail Murder. Ms. Windsor you are under arrest for the murder of Officer Alton Snow.” The heavy-set officer took his cue and lept from his seat in the corner to slap a pair of handcuffs on Rae’s wrists.

“You will never be able to convict me in a trial. I am a world-renown murder mystery novelist. I’ve studied the art of crime and you have nothing on me. I know how to perfect the art of cover-up just like my characters.” Rae shouted as additional officers entered the room.

“Ms. Windsor, I believe that you have just confessed to a number of unsolved area murders.” Patel grabbed her steno pad and pen and smiled before leaving the interrogation room.

 

It is unlawful to plagiarize any of the original work from The Ameri Brit Mom. No permission is given to reuse this text or ideas without written consent. Always give credit where credit is due. 

 

A Book Review: I Am the Messenger

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.

Title: I Am the Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Copyright Date: 2005

19057

One of my favorite books of all time is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’ve read the book three or four times on my own and have actually taught it in my classroom before as well. Aside from a great plot and character development that book stands out  to me because of the literary style of Zusak. He is known for his short sentences which create a sense of urgency and fast pace for the reader. His sentences may be short, but he can pack so much into so few words.

My love for Zusak’s work has put I Am Messenger on my to-read list for years. I’ve told myself I’d eventually get to reading this stand alone novel of Zusak’s. I’d read many reviews ahead of time giving this book mixed reviews, and so my fear was that by reading this book it may change my mind about Zusak. I’m here to tell you that I am so glad that I finally bit the bullet and gave this dust-gatherer on my shelf a read.

I Am the Messenger is a book about Ed Kennedy.

Ed is average in every sense of the word. He is a young cab driver who lives alone with his dog, Doorman. Ed’s circle of friends enjoy gathering to drink and play cards, but he is terrible at the game and attends mostly for the company. Additionally, one of the friends is Audrey, a girl that Ed is in love with, but who has rejected him a number of times. Everything about Ed is common until he witnesses a bank robbery and by chance helps to apprehend the culprits.

From that moment on things really begin to change in Ed’s life.

One at a time, Ed receives Aces in the mail. First the diamonds, then clubs, spades,  and finally hearts. On each of the cards Ed finds the names of complete strangers or locations. At first Ed has no clue what is going on and nearly throws the first card in the trash. Time passes and with the names on his mind Ed begins to investigate these people. He is led to places where help is needed desperately.

From abusive husbands to a priest with a waning congregation Ed is led through a series of tasks and fulfills his role in helping those he was assigned to by the cards. Some of the jobs are easier than others. But in the end Ed follows the commands of the cards.

All is going well in Ed’s quest to help the world as prescribed by the aces until the instructions lead him to problems much closer to home. In the process Ed learns that the people around him are not as ordinary as he thought.

Ed begins to see the world differently and recognize his purpose.

Ed is not average. No one is. We all have the power to be the Messenger.

photo credit:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19057.I_Am_the_Messenger