In the Bookcase


Book Review: Three Men On The Bummel

Three Men On The Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome (3 star review)

Three Men On The Bummel
Three Men series, #2

written by Jerome K. Jerome

207 pages // published in 1900 // Victorian humor


Three Men on the Bummel is the sequel to Three Men in a Boat, which Jerome K. Jerome originally wrote as a travel guide. As the humorous anecdotes took over the story, it eventually turned into a masterpiece of comedy. This novel reprises the same three characters as they explore the Black Forest in Germany.

My Review

3 Star Rating

Three Men on the Bummel is the sequel to Three Men in a Boat (the sequel being published only a year after the first title).

This volume starts out as a rather jaunty tune; I felt like I was delightedly being led along those first chapters. It was a breeze! The men would get entrapped in petty (but oh-so-hilarious) arguments with their wives, or the three friends would be telling stories of fascinatingly comedic escapades. Everything is so quaint and Victorian, adding to the overall charm value it had.

Now, after the narrator and his buddies take leave of the English shore and start their journey, I got a little lost in several places. Many times the long, drab passages would just muddle me up, and the story wasn't half as entertaining as before. Sometimes it read more like a traveler's guide on how to enjoy a bummel across Europe, occasionally poking fun at the Germans or Americans, etc. It just seemed to have lost its full comedy that I so enjoyed from Three Men in a Boat.

What I did like was the wit that did shine through of Jerome K. Jerome, some pretty funny scenes, the bantering conversations, and the oh-so-British pomp -- that will all live in my memory for quite a while.

Oh, and I do miss the dog, Montmorency, who appeared in the first volume!

Available on Amazon in paperback, ebook and audio format.

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This is book #8 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Number in the Title]

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Book Review: Present Over Perfect

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (5 star review)

Present Over Perfect
Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

written by Shauna Niequist

240 pages // published in 2016 // Christian encouragement


Instead of pushing for perfection

A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.

Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Sometimes you have to learn that it's better to be present (in the moment, with your family, taking a breather), than it is to have people believe that you're leading a perfect, successful life. Besides, “perfect” in based on whose terms?

A big lesson Shauna shares about that I need to use more often in my life? I can't say yes all the time to please people. I have to take care of myself and my family, and sometimes (many times) this may mean saying no to requests for my time. It's not rude. It's prudent.

Another lesson I learned? You need to be honest to yourself. A lot of times we fudge the truth a bit with ourselves. We think that planning an event won't take too much of our time, taking on eight random projects to complete in a week will be a little hard but doable. No. We've got to stop those thoughts. Be honest. Be real.

“Perfect and the hunt for it will ruin our lives.”

Like Shauna, I probably have worn filters over my eyes – like sunglasses, affecting how or what I perceive. And filters over my ears and mouth too. Just like when Dorothy visited the fabled Land of Oz, and upon putting on green glasses, she believed that the entire city was sparkling in emeralds. These similar filters affected how I saw the world, and how I thought people were judging me or looking at me. Well, guess what? Everyone else has their own filters, and more than likely, theirs are different than yours. So those tiny details you fret over about yourself probably go unnoticed by others.

“Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice.”

There are some details I picked up on the book where Shauna relates some of her beliefs which are a little bit different than mine. It's just a difference of the kind of churches we each attend, and that's okay. In no way did this detract from the spiritual encouragement that I received.

I think from this time on, I'll always remember some key principles that Shauna brings out. One of these good reminders will always be at Christmastime, when I hear the words “...and the soul felt its worth.” Those words have never rung so beautifully in my ears as they will now when I hear them this next Christmas. Thanks, Shauna.

I enjoyed this kind of encouragement, from a woman who's been around the block a few times, and knows how to inspire through words.

Available on Amazon in hardcover, ebook and audio format.

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Mount TBR Checkpoint, 2017 Vol. 3

With September out of the way now, we're more than 9 months into the 2017 Mount TBR challenge. This challenge has allowed me to clear 90 titles off my TBR stack this year alone. Well, isn't that amazing?

I started out by aiming for El Toro (75) for the whole year, and well... yeah, I already surpassed that. It's time to up the battle against the mountain, obviously. I should definitely head for Mt. Everest (100 books). But the real nail-biting question is... should I even attempt Mount Olympus (150 books)??? Yeah, that's a mountain on Mars. Looking at the statistics, the numbers show that by the end of the year, I'm right on track for finishing 120 books. It seems as though I'd REALLY have to push in several extra titles by year's end, and with the holidays on the way? Better not risk it. There's always next year. Mount Everest it is. And I'm truly happy with that.

Now that I've reached the checkpoint, it's time for me to answer a fun question provided by Bev at My Reader's Block...

• Pair up two of reads that are opposites.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum -- & -- Winter by Marissa Meyer 

The "opposite" pairing I've chosen is a BEGINNING and an ENDING to a series.
I've been eager to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels for a LONG time, and 2017 was the year I got to do it! There's 14 Oz books in total (who knew there are sooo many Oz adventures?), and I set a goal for myself to read half of those this year. (BTW, that goal is going well. 5 out of 7 down.) Next up, to complete this pairing, I finished an epic series this year... and it's bittersweet. In reading Winter, I said goodbye to The Lunar Chronicles and some pretty amazing friends I made in those books.

Question for my readers! What series did you start or end this year?


Introducing audiobooks into your life...

Why Nonfiction Audiobooks Are The Perfect Choice For First-Time Listeners

Why Nonfiction Audiobooks Are The Perfect Choice
For First-Time Listeners

article by Sadie Trombetta

"Before I started listening to audiobooks, I will admit, I was a bit skeptical of the idea. A hardcore bibliophile, I have always felt a certain attachment to physical books, but once I tried listening to my first nonfiction audiobook, I was obsessed. If you have never tried this kind of "reading," nonfiction audiobooks just may be the genre that gets you hooked."

— Continue reading at


Book Review: Hammer of the Huguenots

Hammer of the Huguenots by Douglas Bond (5 star review)

Hammer of the Huguenots
Heroes & History series

written by Douglas Bond

224 pages // published in 2015 // Christian historical fiction


Philippe, an orphan shipwright apprentice in sixteenth-century France, is perplexed by the intense religious conflict raging about him. While his friends Maurice and Sophie cling to the good news proclaimed by the church Reformers, Philippe has not yet been persuaded to abandon the teachings of the state church in which he was raised. The gospel sounds liberating at times, but can he risk believing when persecution and bloodshed inevitably follow? As Huguenot communities are massacred and full-scale warfare breaks over France, Philippe must decide once and for all where his loyalties lie. The choices he and his friends make in these violent times may cost them everything.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Before reading this book, I may have heard of the Huguenots before, but I certainly didn't quite know exactly what they stood for that made them famous in the annals of history. Now that I learned more about the Reformation era, I am overwhelmed with the bold faith that the Huguenots exhibited. Wow, these people were strong! Plus, by reading all about it in a fictional setting, I was immersed into an intriguing storyline...

So, I learned some amazing history. Like how it would have been sedition to the king to sing psalms or recite holy scripture in French, instead of Latin. So many thousands of Huguenots died in the cause of the Reformation; a total extermination decree was issued against them in 1569. Who were these people? Peaceful men from families of “merchants, shipbuilders, stonecutters, farmers, fishermen, blacksmiths.”

There's a particular character who really stood out to me, and I thought I should mention it here. Dearest Sophie. I thought of her more as a “background” character for quite a while, and wasn't expecting much from her, with all the other events going on, but I was certainly surprised by her actions. She knocks in out of the park in this novel... What bravery this girl has!!

Douglas Bond has a fascinating vocabulary. In addition to him being able to filter SO MUCH history into a dramatic story, he also knows how to insert such interesting words, some of which I had use “ye olde dictionary” for. I should mention though, there are some chapters in the book which seem long-winded, and the reader takes in a lot of historical accounts at once (I was extremely pleased with the short chapters to quickly break up the harder reading). The government and politics play a huge part in the story, there are lots of speeches to read through too. I'm only mentioning this to say that this book is not “fluffy” or light historical fiction; it's deep and has a lot of information to share with you. That's fine though, because I was completely engrossed in it.

I think this is a serious story that Christians need to hear. It may have happened in France a few hundred years ago, but we need to know how people of our faith were persecuted for what they believed in. There are elements of history that ring true to modern times; we can find some relatable bits, like how in their times, teaching in school about Reformed Christianity is an act of treason (and was punishable by death, my goodness). At least we're not in a religious war right now, but these things really happened.

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
- Chapter 23, Hammer of the Huguenots

Christian families especially will love this novel, the strong and bold type of faith it displays, and the history it imparts on its readers.

There is revival, victory, and hope to be found in Hammer of the Huguenots.

Available on Amazon in paperback and ebook format.

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