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Friday Faves: It’s ALL ABOUT YOU Edition

27 Jan

OK, it’s Friday afternoon.  I’m not feeling so hot (TMD, rainy gloom, sinuses).  BFF Sarah came home from work early.  And I’ve got less than 25 minutes to sneak in a blog post.  Why 25 minutes (or less), you ask?  Because I’m dying my hair! (Even we natural blondes need to rely on a bottle to get us through the lack-of-sun winter months. Don’t judge me!)

(My pics won’t post right, so I’m typing something here to fill up the space. La-dee-dah!  Doesn’t JOSH WILSON rock?)

If I ever try online dating again, I should use this at my main profile pic.  Love me as I am!!!

Being a woman on a schedule, Friday Faves is going to be ever so brief this week. So, why don’t you share some of your faves in the comment section?  Share a post from your blog, someone else’s blog, an interesting news article, or a silly video (go ahead and Rick Roll us!) 

Not only did DaySpring cards make me smile this week (read post), so did my friend Mel Brown, who send BFF Sarah and I some snazzy eco-friendly necklaces.  Mine is green, of course, and BFF Sarah’s is a pretty purple.  Doesn’t my necklace look fab with my 1000 Reasons perpetual desk calendar? (BTW, I got Ann Voskamp’s book for a friend AND the desk calendar at the DaySpring Online Store as a bundled deal cheaper than I would’ve paid on Amazon.)  Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a $20 gift card to the DaySpring Online Store, which you can also use on (in)courage products. (Check out Shari’s giveaway, too! Shari’s ends tomorrow so enter NOW!!!)

Look at all the faves I managed to sneak into that intro.  It’s time to wash out my hair dye (BFF Sarah says I’m five minutes overdue!!!), so share, share, share your faves so this post isn’t a total flop!

Cards Still Make a Difference & Giveaway!

26 Jan

{More info on these cards}

We have more excuses than ever not to send cards for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions: The price of stamps just increased.  Again.  Cards aren’t eco-friendly (even though they can be recycled and are often made out of recycled materials).  And, of course, there just isn’t enough time to buy a card, address it, and pop it in a mail box.  Besides, e-card are often free…and nothing says, “I love you, Mom” like canned music and a mouse jumping out of a birthday cake.

In our tech savvy society, do conventional cards really make a difference?  That was the question I sought to answer with my brand new DaySpring cards—the Hope & Encouragement by (in)courage’s Holly Gerth  My test subjects?  The ladies in the Monday night Bible study that I lead.

First, I needed a control card to ensure that each member of my Bible study received a card that is equal in value and appearance.  I chose “Thank You For What You Do” from Holley Gerth’s collection.  What better want to tell the ladies in my flock how much I care about each and every one of them and thank them for the support they offer me weekly, as their fearless shepherdess.  As I addressed each card, I asked God to help me write a pithy message to each lady.  Despite using the same card, I didn’t want to express exactly the same sentiment to the varying personalities present at Monday night Bible study. 

Second, I wanted to give my Bible study a chance to spread the blessing to others.  I went through all my DaySpring cards, picked out about 12 (admittedly, it’s hard to part with any of my beautiful cards, but I was on a woman on a mission!), and placed them on the table at Bible study telling the ladies to pick a card or two to send (or give) to someone else.

After receiving their personalized cards from me, the ladies were more than delighted to choose cards for their own use. I overheard comments like, “Wow, these are really nice cards!”  “Amy, did you buy all these cards for us?” “They sell DaySpring cards at the local Bible bookstore!”   Most of all, they were excited that cards geared towards Christian women were relevant, beautiful, and affordable!  Someone remarked that the cards were great for anyone—Christian or not! 

One lady asked us to help her find a card that would be appropriate to encourage a friend whose mother just died.  Another wanted to use her card to uplift a co-worker who is going through an incredibly rough time.  A few ladies picked out cards and didn’t disclose how they would be used…yet.  Since one member of our group was unable to attend our “card shower,” we decided to sign and send her a card to let her know that we love her and she was missed!  Naturally, the choice of card was a group decision!

{This card, featuring a crown and a bookmark, was my favorite.  Oh, how I need to remember these words!}

While my experiment was wholly unscientific, I can safely say that greeting cards are still relevant.  There’s something about the tactile sensation of opening a card, especially when unexpected, knowing that the sender thought of you!  I like to save my cards and read the messages again and again—a reminder that people do love me when I feel unloved and unlovely or celebrated when I feel defeated. Will a card change the world?  Probably not.  But it can make someone’s day, and I’m grateful that DaySpring cards gave me the opportunity to bless others, who in turn, will use DaySpring cards to bless even more.

Yes, friends, cards really do make a difference.  Get a book of forever stamps, make a list of people who could use a beautiful card, and head over to the DaySpring Online Store to nab a few cards of your own. And, ladies, check out (in)courage for uniquely feminine musings as well as the fabulous (in)spired deals to get cute cards like mine!

Win a $20 code to use at DaySpring’s Online Store!

And I’m going to make it even easier for you to bless others with DaySpring cards, simply enter my giveaway to win a $20 coupon code to DaySpring’s online store,which offers a bounty of cards as well as other inspirational products.  To enter, simply fill out THE FORM.  For an extra entry, leave a comment about how a card cheered up your day OR how you used a card to bless someone else.  The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM EST on January 31, so get entering.

*If you really want to win, then head on over to my friend’s blog, Shari’s Sentiments, for another chance to win a $20 gift code.  Imagine if you win both of our giveaways…$40 can bring a lot of cheer!

*To my dearest FTC, I selected and was provided with the Holley Gerth Hope & Encouragement Pack from DaySpring, free of charge for review. These opinions are my own and do not reflect those of Dayspring in any way.* (P.S. I totally copy/pasted this disclosure from Shari’s blog.)

Friday Faves: OK to NOT be OK Edition

9 Dec

How are you doing?  By that I mean, how are you *really* doing?  Yesterday the receptionist at one of my doctor’s office (two appointments with doctors in one!!!) asked me this question and I was tired, tearful, and a plain ol’ mess.  I thought about saying, “OK,” which would have been a bold-faced lie.  I was clearly *NOT* OK.  I told her that I was having a rough day. She smiled sympathetically, talked to talk to me about my dogs (usually a great topic), but I wouldn’t budge.  I was not OK, and I couldn’t pull it together to have fake cheerful small talk.  Sometimes small talk just seems so, well, small. 

I needed someone pastoral to talk to, and since I don’t know the pastor at my new church that well, I decided to call my buddy, Brently, at First Pres in Bethlehem.  He was OK with me not being OK, listened to me, and then he prayed for me.  He told me that I totally need to check out the Christmas rock concert at the church next weekend and promised to give me two of the worship bands CD’s (I’m holding you to that, Brently).  Thank you, Brently!  After praying for me (over the phone, nonetheless) , I felt the Peace that surpasses all understanding–all because Brently took the time to listen to me when I was not OK.

Therefore, I want to offer a bit of advice for you when you’re not OK:

1.  You’ve heard “fake it until you make it.”   If I’m truly glum, faking it just makes it worse.  Be honest.  “Today I am not OK.” “Bad day.” “Dealing with some stuff.”  And remember, if the person asks you if you want to talk, you aren’t required to talk.  Just say, “No, thank you.” 

2.  God’s OK with you not being OK.  He longs to comfort His child.  Not being OK drives us to His arms.  The world is brutal; we need God’s comfort.  I like to journal my little heart out and read Psalms.  All of them. 

3. Talk to a safe person.  Don’t give away pieces of your heart to people who can’t be trusted with it.  Find someone who’s OK with you where you’re at and just let loose.  It’s one of the best things you can do–to find God’s peace. (If you don’t have a safe person, pray that God will provide someone…or take a risk on someone you think could be safe.  I mean, you could fall flat on your face.  That will hurt, but it’s worth risking to find that person that will point you to God.  And it’s not easy at all.)  Be wise about this, though.  Talking to the wrong person can be horribly painful.

4.  Listen to Bebo Norman, lots of Bebo Norman.  I’ve said in previous posts that Bebo Norman’s music has this incredible quality to calm me down and provide peace in many different moods.  Find your “Bebo Noman”–an artist, a book, a Bible passage, whatever, that comforts you and draws you into the heart of God, that calms your spirit, that helps you with not being OK.

I know these tips aren’t earth-shattering or anything.  They probably won’t change the world.  You probably know and utilize them already, but this is what’s on my heart.  And maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there who needed to be reminded that it’s OK to NOT be OK as much as I did this morning.

I’m thankful to report by my NOT OK has returned to OK, thanks to the prayers of faithful friends.  I love you, guys!

Now that we’ve had our little affirmation session for the week, let’s get on to those Friday Faves, shall we?

*Last week I told you about the splediferous Jason Gray CD giveaway I’m doing here on Backseat Writer to celebrate “Remind Me Who I Am” hitting #1 on iTunes.  Apparently, you didn’t get the message, so I’m extending the giveaway a little bit.  GO ENTER THE GIVEWAY FOR AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF A WAY TO SEE IN THE DARK!!!  Even if you already own the album, enter if you know someone who NEEDS this album.  Seriously.  I want this album to go to a person who needs it.  Enter so we can make that happen.

*Earlier this week, Jenny Jones posted this video from Preston Leatherman I just had to re-share it here. The videos this character does are hilarious. Check out his version of “Footloose.”  Looks like he’s at Target, Wegman’s.  The mall.  And wearing Tom’s Shoes, which I can’t wear because I have wide feet, but I’m glad Preston can wear ‘em. And getting folks to dance with him.  Preston reminds me of Sue Heck’s “boyfriend” in “The Middle.”  This just makes me smile–might be a good thing to watch on those not OK days.  You gotta give Preston Leatherman mad props for the creative promotion of his music, which I kind of like.

*’Tis the season for FREE CHRISTMAS MUSIC!  Amazon always offers free downloads (25 days of Christmas songs–a new one each and every day), but there is a plethora of Christmas selection, including MXPX’s “Punk Rawk Christmas.”  While I’ve outgrown my punkish MXPX days, maybe you haven’t!  (And if you have, there are lots of other songs to make your days be merry and bright, like Leigh Nash’s “O Holy Night!  How I adore Leigh Nash.  You can also snag Eisley’s version of the songIt’s my very favorite carol, so I can never have too many copies of it.).  Also, my favorite site for checking out new artists, NoiseTrade, has a bunch of great music, which you can get for exchanging information, telling your pals about what you’re downloading (and leave a tip if you enjoy the music, so that artists can keep doing it).  Personally, I’m enjoying Folk Angel’s three-song sampler as well as Merry Christmas, Good Night, which is a smattering of various artists, and A Child Is Born by Sojourn (though somehow I obstained Advent Songs, which I can’t find on NoiseTrade right now).

*Musician Shaun Groves wrote an excellent post on his blog called, “Fan Mail,” about how he thought he was going to save the Christian music industry, but then realized how music, even the music some disdain, has the power to change people’s lives because of God.  Great post!

*My friend, Amanda Danziger, makes indie documentaries about the plights of impoverished people.  So far, she’s talked about street kids in Africa, women living in the slums of India, and now she’s taking on the City of Brotherly Love with her latest project,The Backyard Philly Project.”  The video above explains what the project is all about, and I’d like you to consider giving to this project.  I know I will!

I have more to share, but our attention spans are so short in this day and age.  I know I’m already tired of reading this post, so have a wonderful weekend and do leave a comment because it makes me more than OK. (And you don’t have to answer all of the questions, or any of them.  I just write them to invite conversation.)

What is something you read, saw, encountered that intrigued you this week?  How do you deal with not being OK?  How’s the Christmas shopping going?  What kind of cookies are you making?  Would you dance in the mall with an iPod?  Are you ready to fall asleep from exhaustion? (I am!)

Friday Faves: Snow Globe Living Edition

2 Dec

I’ve been going back and forth on bringing back Friday Faves.  Am I ready?  What if I do it this Friday and not next Friday?  I mean, do I even have any readers left besides my mother? 

Then I thought, if you write it, they will come.

So I fooled around on Facebook for a while (yes, those games I used to think were stupid are highly addictive and somewhat entertaining), scoped out Thursday’s online deals, goofed around on Twitter, played some more Facebook games (The wheat needed to be harvested).  And here I am, staring at my computer screen thinking of all the great things I read, saw, and experienced this week.

How could I keep all this awesomeness to myself?  Why, that would be selfish!  I don’t know what’s going to happen next week or the week after or the week after, but I’m sure God does.  I’ll keep the future rightly in His hands and focus on the matter at hand—this week’s Friday Faves.

I seem to listen to a lot of music or read a lot of books—not usually at the same time, though occasionally my loves do intermingle.  Currently, I’m in a music phase and with so many exciting things happening in the industry (like the GRAMMY Award Nominations…congrats, everyone!), there is much to share.

*I can’t stop singing “Snow Globe” by Matt Wertz, even though I don’t know all (or most) of the lyrics.  Mostly, I just prance around singing, “Sometimes I wish I lived in snow globe,” mumble, and then pick it up again on the “la-la’s.”  Therefore, I need to share this song with y’all.  And, as luck would have it, Matt Wertz was kind enough to make an enchanting music video for us to enjoy together. (Amy’s note: Matt Wertz must be very secure in his masculinity to wear long-johns in that video!) 

I always wished I lived in a snow globe, and I’m glad I’m not alone.  I’m sure someone’s going to form a Facebook group about this very topic, and I’ll probably join in. But under no circumstances will I be appearing in any music videos in my PJ’s.  Some things are just private, know what I’m saying? You’ve got to be a good friend or family member to see me in my scrubby night duds. 

For a limited time, you can download “Snow Globe” along with his album 23 Places FOR FREE on NoiseTrade: GO DOWNLOAD IT!!!  And while you’re out there LEGALLY downloading music, hop over to your fave music buying site, and check out Matt’s brand spankin’ new-this-year Christmas album called…wait for it…SNOW GLOBE!!!  I only wish the album came with a FREE Matt Wertz snow globe.

But, wait, you can head over to Matt Wertz’s website and get your very own snow globe necklace for $40, complete with an 18” sterling silver chain.  Cute idea, but kind of pricey, especially since I have to assemble the mini-snow globe myself AAAND I prefer 22” chains.  Now you know what to get for the person who has everything—a snow globe necklace!

Only 5 BUCKS, baby!  Like dollars, not male deer!

*While we’re on the topic of legally purchasing music…have you checked out some of the $5 digital music downloads on Amazon lately?  The “regular” album choices for December are pretty paltry, but the special Christmas music section is great!  For ONLY five dollars, you can treat yourself to some of my favorite albums including Christmas Spirits by Straight No Chaser, Wintersong by Sarah MacLachlan, A Very Merry Christmas by Dave Barnes, Christmas by Rebecca St. James (which I got as a Christmas present in 1997.  I love this album!), and one of my most loved Christmas albums, Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer by Relient K.  Since I already own this great music, I’m thinking of purchasing Mindy Smith’s My Holiday–what do you think?

Jillian Edwards = one of the many reasons I love Noise Trade!

*NoiseTrade co-founder Derek Webb (he sings, too!) wrote a tantalizing post this week about why he’d rather give his music away for free than allowing it to be streamed on Spotify.  Check out, “Giving It Away:  How Free Music Makes More Than Sense.”   I’m a habitual NoiseTrade download junkie.  I mean, what won’t I do for free music?  Plus, I can discover amazing musicians without feeling pressured by a publicist. (Darn my people-pleasing tendencies!)  In fact, I recently discovered Jillian Edwards on NoiseTrade, and I think you’ll love her!

I might wear Long-johns in a music video for a Kindle Fire…

*Because we’re all about the free, I mean, all about the music, I want to you how to get FREE MUSIC from Plumb!  Ever since Plumb released her first album when I was in high school, I’ve adored her and her music.  Well, you can download TWO Christmas songs when you like Plumb on Facebook, and then if you tell your friends about Plumb’s awesomeness, I mean, her music (and how could you not?), then you will be entered to win some cool prizes like a Kindle Fire (drool!), an iPod shuffle, Plumb-y gear, or a personalized profile pic of Tiffany holding a sign thanking you!!! (I want one of her thanking me while wearing the wings she wore while singing “Send Angels” at Creation ’97!)  Now I’ll refrain from entering this contest (probably) because I’ll blow you all out of the water with my gazillion Facebook friends.  I mean, it wouldn’t even a fair contest.  But I really, really, really want a pretty Kindle Fire, uh, I mean, the other prizes that aren’t a Kindle Fire.  Love, I mean, like Plumb on Facebook, download the songs (Plumb’s version of “What Child Is This” gave me chills.  Beautiful), and WIN [me a Kindle Fire]!

Wowser!  If I didn’t already own one of these…

*You know what makes a great Christmas present? Jason Gray’s latest album, A Way to See in the Dark!!!  Know what makes it better?  If Jason Gray personally autographed it!  Know what makes ME the best ever?!  I’m giving away a copy of that very autographed album for FREE!!!  All you have to do is enter!  Deets hereYou know you want to enter!

Welcome back, Friday Favers!  Hmm….we need to work on a better name for you guys. 

Who wouldn’t want to go sledding with an eReader?

Amy’s Update:  I just learned about another great deal…a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble for only $15 at SaveMore.com (This is my unique referral linkage, BTW.  I get $5 for every new person who signs up!)  Because I’m a first-time user, I got a $10 sign-up bonus, meaning that I can get my gift card for $5 (I think).  If not, I’m totally getting those Fandango tix (two tickets for $12, or rather $2 with my $10 bonus.  Woot!  I can see Breaking Dawn in theaters.  I mean, a mature adult movie that doesn’t involve werewolves and vampires.  Actually, your credit can only be applied to certain purchases and Fandango is not one of them.  Boo-hoo).  And in case you didn’t know, Barnes & Noble dot com has WAY cheaper books and like Amazon, they offer free shipping when on spends $25 or more. (I like to check out the after-Christmas sales at B&N to get pretty journals so I can write down my most private thoughts) Do the deal! (Take note that your gift card won’t be available until 12/12 or 12/13.)

Be honest–do you ever wish you lived in a snow globe?  Do you ever think you *do* live in a snow globe? (If so, I have a counseling degree; I  can help you.  Or at least run the peer support group!)  Would you wear an adult onesie in public, even if you were a TOTALLY famous musician like Matt Wertz?  Do you want to win a Kindle Fire?  Do you want to win ME a Kindle Fire?  Isn’t Plumb a fantastic dresser?  (If I dressed like her, I’d just look silly.)  Do you use Spotify?  NoiseTrade?  Buy a $5 Amazon album?  Breathe?  How is your Christmas shopping going thus far?  Are you thinking about getting a snow globe necklace for anyone on your list?

GIVEAWAY!!! Jason Gray’s “Remind Me Who I Am” is #1 on iTunes!

30 Nov

Wednesdays are killer, right?  Last weekend is a distant memory and this weekend seems like it will never arrive.  And to make matters worse, we’re in the holiday season—shopping, decorating, baking, avoiding Salvation Army bell ringers. I love the Salvation Army and all they do, but I could do without the bell ringers.  I wish you could give them $20 to stop ringing the bell for five minutes or at least until you make it to the car.

But this morning whilst performing my daily ritual of checking out what happened in the cyber world as  I slumbered, I learned something VERY EXCITING from Jen RoseJason Gray’s single, “Remind Me Who I Am” is #1 on the Christian & Gospel charts on iTunes!  Now “Remind Me Who I Am” will always be one of my favorite songs because of the impact it had (and continues to have) on my life,  so I would love to see it get stay at #1. (Note: I like Casting Crowns’ “Courageous” and Laura Story’s “Blessings,” too.  But neither song has hit me in the heart like “Remind Me Who I Am”).

Did you hear *that*, er, read *that?!  I’ll type it in CAPS for emphasis:

JASON GRAY’S “REMIND ME WHO I AM” IS CURRENTLY #1!!!

Personally, I believe you should buy “Remind Me Who I Am” because it’s a great song AND it’s only 69 cents on iTunes, but to help you in your music buying decision, I’m gonna back up this song with a  giveaway.  If you purchase “Remind Me Who I Am” on iTunes, you will get a chance to win an autographed copy of Jason Gray’s latest album, A Way to See in the Dark (and, yes, this is the album “Remind Me Who I Am” is on!) 

Maybe you already own the song or just can’t afford it right now, that’s OK.  I would never exclude anyone from a giveaway.  So everyone gets one entry, BUUUUUUT, if you buy the single on iTunes or gift the single to friends with an identity crisis, you get TWO extra entries for EACH purchase, and if you review the song on iTunes (I’m talking at least two sentence here, not “This song rocketh.” Put a little meat in that review), you get another TWO entries.  That means, you get ONE entry just for being alive, and TWO entries if you buy the song for yourself and TWO more if you leave a review of “Remind Me Who I Am” on iTunes, which gives you SIX chances to win!  (Or if you enter and buy the song for your Aunt Mabel, you have EIGHT your chance of winning A Way to See in the Dark!)

I funkified the photo because it looked subpar due to my messy desk background.

Just fill out THE FORM, tell me how many copies of “Remind Me Who I Am” you purchased on iTunes, write a smashing review, and [hopefully] win!  Remember, you get an entry just for being alive, so everyone can enter, but only one can win.  I mean, maybe I can get Jason Gray to send each one of you a hair follicle or something (by the way, JG did not ask me to run this contest, but I watched him personally autograph the CD, so he has foreknowledge that a giveaway would happen!)

Here are some links in REALLY BIG LETTERS to help you:

1. Buy “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray for 69 cents. 

(Or don’t and enter anyway.  But you get TWO extra entries for each copy of the song you purchase. (You’re on the honor system.  I mean, I love this song, but if you tell me you purchased 109 copies, I’m going to need to see that iTunes receipt.)

2.  Write a short, but meaningful review of “Remind Me Who I Am” on iTunes for another TWO entries.

(By the way, you can review the song without buying it on iTunes, so by being alive AND writing a review, you can get THREE entries.)

3. Then enter to win an authographed copy of the WHOLE album, A Way to See in the Dark by Jason Gray, right here!  I’m instituing use of THE FORM!

*FILL OUT THIS FORM*

The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on December 7, so you have a whole week to snag this deal.  The winner will be emailed and if he/she does not respond within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.  I am not responsible for prizes that are lost by the USPS, though it would be very sad and I would cry with you should that occur.  Oh, and if you buy more copies of “Remind Me Who I Am” or decide to write a review AFTER you’ve already entered do come back and tell me so I can give you even more extra entries.

Even if you don’t win this amazing album, and I hope you do, you still win by getting a copy of “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray.  And I do encourage you to purchase A Way to See in the Dark, for it is a phenomenal album…and it makes a great Christmas present! (I heard Aunt Mabel really wants a copy!)

Still not sure about the song?  Read WHY Jason Gray wrote “Remind Me Who I Am,” find out why I’m thankful for Jason Gray, and read a little about how “Remind Me Who I Am” has helped me (though I only mention the song as an afterthought, I realize it really helped me to come to terms with my identity in God and inspired this post). Learn more about Jason Gray and his awesome self at JasonGrayMusic.com.

Amy’s Random Aside:  I believe in Jason Gray and his music so much that I changed my Twiticon and my Facebook profile pictures to “Remind Me Who I Am.” (I added “Beloved” to the Facebook pic because Amy means “beloved.”)  If you just love Jason, his music, or what people to remind you who you are, email me and I’ll change your Twitter or Facebook book to look similar to mine. (Text may be different.  We are all unique creatures.)

(Click on my image to follow me on Twitter for tantalizing updates!)

OR


(Feel free to friend me on Facebook, too!)

Tell me, once again, why you like this song, why you like this song? (Sing that to the chorus of “Remind Me Who I Am”)  How have you deal with a spiritual identity crisis?  Jason Gray has great hair, so why do you think he’s wearing that hat in the music video for “Remind Me Who I Am”?  Do you recycle your cardboard boxes, make signs from them, or just throw them out in the regular trash?

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop (Sept. 24-Oct 1)

23 Sep

{Click here for full list of blogs hosting giveaways!}

I hereby interrupt my “blogging break” for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop.  I mean, Banned Books Week only happens once year, right?

What’s my opinion of banned books?  I think it really depends on the book and *WHY* it’s being banned and from where the banning is taking place.  Honestly, there are some books that I think shouldn’t be in a school library, a public library, or even a church library (like anything by Joel Osteen.  Actually, his books are should be banned from society).  Of course, these books are based on *MY* opinions and how I view the world and society in general.

As a teen, I tried to read as many “banned” books as possible (with the blessing of educators), particularly if they were classics like Catcher in the Rye.  The best way to get someone to read a book is to ban it.

For my INTERNATIONAL (to where The Book Depository ships) giveaway, I’m going you can choose ONE of the following books chosen because it was banned or challenged for a funny reason…

*The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for giving an 11 year-old nightmares. (You can also choose Catching Fire or Mockingjay, which are as equally “nightmarish”!)

*Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for being a repeat offender year after year.

*Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson for “glorifying sex.”  The book is about a girl dealing with her rape–not so glorifying!  This is a really good book about a terrible topic.

*The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien for being burned by a church and labelled as “satanic.” (Your choice of any ONE  book in the trilogy–The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, or Return of the King OR the ever “satanic” book, The Hobbit.)

*The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger for being the most banned book of all time!!!

*To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee for being a classic banned book!

*The Lord of the Flies by William Golding for a slew of reasons.  I happen to think it’s a great book.

*1984 by George Orwell for being “pro-communist.”

*Animal Farm by George Orwell for “indecent images of alcoholic pigs.”  A fave book of mine!

*The Bible, particularly Song of Solomon, for its “sexual imagery.”  (If you choose the Bible, it *must* be $15 or under…and please only choose this if you want the Bible!  This one is nice, despite being $15.69.  You can totally choose it.)

(Source: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/reasonsbanned/index.cfm)

To enter, simply fill out

*THE FORM*!

THE DEETS:  The giveaway runs until 11:59 PM EST on October 1.  After the winner is confirmed (via email) he or she will be announced on Backseat Writer, Twitter, and via White House Press Conference.  This giveaway is ONLY open to residents of planet Earth. Sorry, but the cost of shipping books to Pluto is just getting out of control. (Psst! That means it’s a international party, kids!)  I am not responsible for prizes that mysteriously disappear in the postal system.  You can leave a comment about a book that you *wish* was banned and why.  You won’t get any extra points, but it might make me laugh!

Thanks to I Read Banned Books and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer for organizing this fab giveaway hop! 

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop (Ended)

31 Aug

{Click here for a FULL LIST of all the participants!}

Congrats to winner Ricki @ Reading Challenged!

I am a life long lover of learning, so it is with great sadness that I pass the back-to-school section on my shopping trips.  I want a reason to buy a bunch of Crayola crayons for 25 cents, packs of highlighters for 50 cents, and folders with the cast of “Glee” for a $1.50.  But, alas, my days of school, college, and graduate studies are over…unless I go for a doctorate.  Though I think my fellow students would frown upon a “Spider-Man” lunch box.

OK, so maybe I’m not going back to school, but there are plenty of lucky kids hitting the books, going off to college, and there’s the rest of us–who have kids going to school (chorus of hallelujahs from parents everywhere) or who, like me,  get really psyched by the low cost of pens, paper, highlighters, and other office supplies.  Whatever your stage in life, you didn’t stop by for me to blather on about my old school days–you want to enter my giveaway!!!

Sometimes I accidentally [sometimes on purpose] acquire more than one copy of a book, and it seems a bit silly to keep TWO or more copies of the same book lying around, so ONE winner will get his or her choice of ONE of the following books from my “doubles” collection…

Marley & Me by John Grogan

(One of my all-time fave books! Used hardcover from a library sale.)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soilder by Ishmael Beah

(Another incredible read! Used paperback from a library sale.  It even has “Emmaus Public Library” stamps in it!   Only the best for my readers.)

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

(Brand-new paperback.  Won one in a giveaway & somehow got two!)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

(Brand-new paperback.  Won one in a giveaway & somehow got three!)

To enter, all you have to do is…

Fill out “THE FORM.”

THE DEETS:  The giveaway runs until 11:59 PM EST on September 7.  After the winner is confirmed (via email) he or she will be announced on Backseat Writer, Twitter, and via White House Press Conference.  This giveaway is ONLY open to residents of planet Earth. Sorry, but the cost of shipping books to Pluto is just getting out of control. (Psst! That means it’s a international party, kids!)  I am not responsible for prizes that mysteriously disappear in the postal system.

EXTRA ENTRIES:  For TWO extra puntos, tell me the name of ONE (or two or three) book(s) that you were introduced to by a teacher and still count among your favorites!   Leave your answer in the “comments” section and make sure you the name you commented with on “THE FORM” or your comment, though very much appreciated, will not count as an extra entry.  (Also, if you leave a comment, but don’t actually name a book, then no extra points!  It *is* extra, and you don’t *have* to do it.)

For those hosting BACK TO THE BOOKS GIVEAWAY HOP giveaways, give yourself ONE extra punto on “THE FORM” with a link to your giveaway. 

Thank you to the fine folks at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Buried in Books for organizing this blog hop!

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of cyberspace! 

Friday Faves: Werewolf Attack Edition

5 Aug

I’m ba-ack!  Clearly, I’ve been “back” for over a week now, but I think I missed “Friday Faves” the most during my mini-vacation and blogging break.  For more deets on my adventures, check out my post on Backseat Reader, “Where She (Me) Went,” which also includes links to a ton of giveaways!

Now on to new business…I have survived a vicious attack by a [Boston terrier mix] werewolf named Bloodthirsty One [Buddy].  What, you ask?!  Werewolves in Macungie?!   Yes, friends, they’re not just in London anymore.  I suspect by the next full moon I will be howling at the sky, joining a pack of hairy dudes, and maybe getting a T.V. show of my very own called “30ish Wolf”, that won’t be nearly as awesome as the original movie starring Michael J. Fox.  I would show you a picture of the injury I sustained, but I fear the pictures are far too horrible to publish on the Interwebs.  Suffice to say, I had to get the BIG band-aids at Target, and yes, I did cry.

Not the werewolf who attacked me.

Fortunately, Bloodthirsty One [Buddy] doesn’t seem be accepting any new members into his werewolf pack  [is up-to-date on his shots],  only maimed me for life [my injury isn’t serious], and didn’t steal a bit of my soul [all my flanges are intact].  However, due to his heinous behavior,  I will not be reading any werewolf novels for a very long time.  I’m sorry, Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade and Wolfsbane, but I can’t read your books now after what Bloodthirsty One [ Buddy] did to me.

Also not the werewolf who bite me. *Sad*

I won’t [will] relent, not even [especially]  if you, Andrea Cremer, personally send me autographed copies [or even random used ARCs] of your fascinating books.  Someone’s got to take a stand against these werewolves or we’re going to turn into that town on the Red Riding Hood movie starring Lehigh Valley native Amanda Seyfried.  I don’t care if her werewolf-boyfriend *is* hot; we can’t let these beasties push us around anymore.  Well, maybe the hot ones can take a little nibble…

Enough of this werewolf talk!  I have a lot of faves to share with you and anti-werewolf legislation to draft, so on with the show…

*Currently the Summer Giveaway Hop is in full swing!  Around 300 bloggers are giving away bookish goodies, including me!  Right here at Backseat Writer, you can win a copy of the book that “ruined me”Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith (read review)!  The giveaways end on August 7, so get enterin’!

Munch Munch is available for adoption from Prarie's Edge Human Society

*Know what makes a great pet? (Not wanna-be werewolf Boston terrier mixes, that’s for sure!)  Guinea pigs!  In fact, my first pet was a lovely brown and white guinea pig I named Darcy.  I was a mere 6 years-old, but I was ready for the responsibility of caring for my guinea pig (my dad changed her stinky cage), feeding her healthy food (let’s just forget about that time I almost poisoned her with grass doused in weed killer), and of course, dressing her up in little outfits and carting her around in a toy baby carriage.  Come on, what girl doesn’t take her guinea pig for a stroll around the block?  When I saw PetFinder’s information on guinea pig adoption, I felt a little nostalgic about my ol’ guinea pig, Darcy.  Then I remembered Vanessa, Gwynne, Mya, Harry, and Abigail (R.I.P. one and all!) and decided that I should leave some GP’s alive for the rest of y’all.  Still, guinea pig adoption–what a great idea!

*You may think I only love Jonalyn Grace Fincher’s book, Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home, because of its pretty sparkly cover.  While I admit Jonalyn’s book cover does start me into a Wicked sing-a-long, Ruby Slippers offers freedom for women who have long felt out of place in a patriarchal church society.  Similarly, Jonalyn continues the work she started in her book on her Soulation blog.  Recently, Jonalyn posted an intelligent response to Mark Driscoll’s “opinions” of gender roles.  I’m not going to lie; Mark Driscoll scares me.  Jonalyn, however, doesn’t back away from stating her opinion, even using *gasp* the Bible.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Jonalyn’s post: “Mr. Driscoll is another unfortunate example of theology that justifies strict gender roles wedded to a fallen male-driven honor culture. The mixture is toxic, not just for women, but for the men who must now take all responsibility for success or failure. Not even God thought Adam should handle all that.”  To read more of Jonalyn’s excellent insights, visit her at Soulation.org/jonalynblog.  You will love her, be challenged by her, and most of all, you will find unwavering honesty in Jonalyn Fincher.  (Her husband, Dale, is pretty special, too!)

*Maybe the video’s been posted on YouTube since May, maybe I told Bebo’s publicist that I would post this video 2 or 3 months ago. Maybe.  After the stress of my recent werewolf attack, I can’t be sure about anything.  And isn’t the important thing that I’m posting it now?!   The song is called “God of My Everything” and it is from Bebo Norman’s latest album, Ocean (Read interview.) I have a very special post about Bebo coming up in the next week or two (it’s heart-warming!), but until then, just watch this video repeatedly.  After all, Bebo Norman is my absolute favorite singer/songwriter on the planet.

*Finally, Crystal at SoulMunchies mentioned on Google+ that she started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and I said, “Crystal, what are you doing?  We need to read that together!”  Well, Crystal told me that she isn’t that far along and with my awesome reading skills, I’d be able to catch up to her in no time!  Without Crystal’s approval or knowledge, I invited other people to join us in reading the book, and I guess Crystal was OK with it since she ReTweeted it on Twitter.  Anyway, so if you want to read the book with us, let me know!  I have no idea what it means to read the book with us, but I’m sure it will be fun and glitter will be involved!  While I’m on the topic of glitter, I mean Crystal, I’d love for you to check out a wonderful post she wrote this week on BibleDude.net called, “I Will Not Leave You Orphaned.”  And it’s not a big advert for adoption either.  Read it, think on it, pray over it.  Thank you, Crystal, for your beautiful writing!

And, thank you, lovely reader, for supporting, reading, commenting, and subscribing to Backseat Writer!  A lot of writers say they write for the pure joy of writing, and while that’s why I write in my journal, Backseat Writer is all about reaching out to you!  So if you’re reading this, then I want to let you know how much I value you and thank you for being a part of Backseat Writer.  Have a wonderful weekend!

So…do you like or dislike werewolves?  What about Michael J. Fox–do you like him? What do you think his best T.V. or movie role was?  What was your first pet?  Are you thinking about adopting a guinea pig?  If so, what will you name him or her?  What did you think of Bebo Norman’s “God of My Everything” music video?  Did you enter my giveaway?  Want to read One Thousand Gifts with Crystal and me? Do you think I need to talk about more manly topics to get in touch with my male readers?  Doesn’t Jonalyn have beautiful hair?  I mean, doesn’t Jonalyn have a beautiful style of writing?

Summer Giveaway Hop (August 1-7) {Closed}

31 Jul

Congratulations to BSW’s Summer Giveaway Hop winner, Sarah Sparks!

{Click here for a FULL LIST of all the participants!}

Well, howdy!  Welcome to another lovely bookish giveaway hop hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Mary at Bookhounds.  Don’t our hostesses always do such a great job organizing these hops?  Yes, they do! (And, yes, I do like to answer rhetorical questions.)

Anyway, those of you who have previously visited Backseat Writer know that usually I babble on about something, give you outrageous entry options, and we all have a jolly good laugh together.  I hope that continues to be the case.  However, instead of my usual $10 gift card to Amazon or The Book Depository, you have a chance to win something *really* special—Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith, which is a breathtaking memoir about one woman’s efforts to end human trafficking.  (Read my review.)

Like I said in my review, which I am sure you read, commented on, and are sharing with all of your friends, family, and wanna-be friends, this book ruined me, my idea of “missionaries,” and challenged me to not be so comfortable.  But only enter to win this book if you want your world rocked…because personal examination is part of your journey when reading Passport Through Darkness.

To enter, all you have to do is fill out *THE FORM* with your name and a valid email address.  That’s it!

For an TWO extra entries, check out Kimberly’s site, MakeWayPartners.org and tell me ONE THING you learned about human trafficking, about Kimberly, and/or about the organization.  (You must post your ONE THING in the comments section.  You MUST provide the name that you commented with on the *THE FORM* to earn the extra puntos.)

If you are hosting a giveaway as part of the SUMMER GIVEAWAY HOP, then you are ALSO eligible for ONE extra entry.  Just leave a link to your giveaway in the specified area on *THE FORM*.  You deserve a bonus just for being awesome! (Feel free to leave links to your SUMMER GIVEAWAY HOP post in the comments section, too.  Not required, but why not promote yourself?  All nonsensical or non-PG linkage will be deleted, spammed, and thrown to the cyber-hounds.)

ENTER HERE VIA *THE FORM*.

Remember, you must enter via *THE FORM**THE FORM* is your friend and your ticket to winning.  The giveaway ends at 11: 59 PM on August 8.  The winner will be notified by email and upon confirmation, will be announced via Facebook, Twitter, and as part of a “Friday Faves” blog post.  The book will be shipped by the author and Backseat Writer is not responsible for missing and or lost prizes, but it will make me very sad.  Yes, this giveaway *IS* international.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment or linkage to your Summer Giveaway Hop post.  While it’s not required, it’s always nice to hear from you guys. And if you tell me what you learned about on MakeWayPartners.org, you can earn yourself an TWO extra entries (and ONE extra entry for those of you hosting Summer Giveaway Hop giveaways).  Happy summer!

Friday Faves: Pottermania Edition {probably contains spoilers}

15 Jul

Pottermania is sweeping the nation!  I’m sure you are all wondering when I will go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.  My answer: not anytime soon.  See, I dislike crowds, especially unruly ones.  Therefore, while being crammed into a theater with fellow Harry Potter fanatics sounds incredibly fun in theory, the truth is that it would probably result in a panic attack.  When I do see the movie, you will be the first to know…and I’m sure my scream of horror at Fred Weasley’s death will be heard many miles away.

Incidentally, I did receive some flack for my post on Fred’s death, which I posted here and on Backseat Reader.  Apparently the post’s title, “Why do you care so much about Fred Weasley’s death?” is a spoiler.  Not a very big spoiler, but a spoiler nonetheless, which is why I was sure to warn ALL my readers that this post could be spoily.  I would hate to ruin the “fun” of discovering Fred’s death for anyone else.  (Personally, I see my post as a public service announcement to help people know that while it appears that our dear Fred is dreadfully departed, things are not always what they seem.)

A few “lovely” individuals also left mean comments calling me stupid and telling me to get over it.  Since Backseat Writer is a benevolent dictatorship, I deleted those nasty comments and felt sad that those people missed the entire point of why I cared so much about Fred Weasley’s life and death.  Honestly, I don’t mind being called “stupid” (OK, I do mind…just keeping it real), but I do mind when I pour my heart into a post, only to have it dismissed as “silly” or “stupid” simply because it’s misunderstood.

My main point is this–J.K. Rowling created a world with very real and colorful characters.  These characters are so real that the death of one–namely Fred Weasley–is painful.  Not only that, but because of the Harry Potter books, I was able to find an escape during some very painful times.  Such is the wonderful power of literature and imagination!  It reminds me of a quote my friend Hira posted on Twitter.  Alan Rickman, the actor who portrays Severus Snape in the movies said this, “When I’m 80 years old, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. My family will say, ‘After all this time?’ and I will say ‘Always.’”  Me, too.  Who’s with me?

Therefore, in celebration of Harry Potter and the beginning of the end of an era (before Pottermore is launched and we all become obsessed with it), this week it’s all about Harry and the gang.

*Kimberly at Reflections of a Book Addict is hosting the “Harry Potter Blogsposion,” where you can win paperback copies of ALL the Harry Potter books and even a couple of the movie DVD’s.  Personally, I put my name in for my fave book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, since my copy is starting to fall apart.  After giving into my incessant begging via Twitter, Kimberly was also kind enough to let me in on the fun. So whilst you’re over there checking out all the Harry goodness, take a look at my article, “Amy’s View on the Best of the Rest,” where I discuss some of my favorite secondary characters in the series.

I love this graphic and had to use it again. Artist unknown.

*While checking the latest book news on Reading With Tequila, I noticed that Jennifer had various posts on Harry Potter characters that were “loved.” But do you know who wasn’t among the adored?  My very own Fred and George Weasley!  Maybe I volunteered, maybe Jennifer asked, maybe a little of both…who can remember?  The end result is another post by yours truly called, “Why I Love Fred and Geroge Weasley.”

I stole this graphic from Reading Teen. But they won't care because it's a magical portkey to their site.

*Andye at Reading Teen (whose love for all things Potter surpasses my own) and her gang posted some hilarious Harry Potter material in recent weeks, including this video about what it means to be in Hufflepuff (I really did laugh out loud) and the Harry Potter comic parody known as “SummHarry.”  Created by artist Lucy Knisney, the comics depict ALL of the Harry Potter books through comics.  You’ve got to see it to believe it, and believe me, you want to see it. You can download all the drawings FOR FREE on Lucy’s site (you can make a small donation to help Lucy out with website/bandwidth costs…or just because you appreciate her clever artistry.)  My favorite Potter post, written by Andye, is called “Ten Things I Wish Were Real (Harry Potter).”

*This evening I discovered Patricia’s Peculiarity (try saying that five times fast), which is running a month long Harry Potter celebration with giveaways, including HP swag!  Woot!  There are a ton of great posts, items, and memories to be found here.  My favorite giveaway thus far is the Gryffindor swag.  I mean, honestly, would you want to be in any other house? Gryffindor is where all the action happens.

*Are you a bookish, average-looking, intelligent and brave gal?  Then chances are you are a big fan of Hermione Granger. (Personally, she’s my fave member of the trio.  I guess it should be Harry Potter, and I do love my Harry, but I’ve always had a soft spot of Hermione’s amazingness!)  And guys, I know you like intelligent girls who read, so everyone should check out this excellent post by the Huffington Post’s Laura Gibbard called, “Hermione Granger: The Heronine Women Have Been Waiting For.”  The article talks about how Hermione has so much more substance than a Disney princess and also argues that Harry and Ron would be lost without her, which is absolutely true.  We love Hermione!

*I almost forgot to tell y’all about Potter Puppet Pals, this crazy web series by Neil Cicierega, featuring a parody of Harry Potter using puppets.  Sometimes they’re a little off-color, so throw the kids out of the room and watch.  You’ll love your guilty pleasure.

*One of my favorite singer/songwriters and author of the Wingfeather Saga, Andrew Peterson, wrote an absolutely lovely post this week called, “Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me.” Peterson reflects on how he came to read the Harry Potter series, why it’s awesome, and how it can point us to God.  

*I know it’s hard to believe, but there are other movies releasing this weekend, including the one seen in the trailer below.  It’s a cute spoof on DH2.

One more thing, congratulations to Janelle, the winner of last week’s Freedom Giveway Hop!  Out of the 273 of you who entered the giveaway, only a shameful seven truly think Fred Weasley is no longer with us!  I even have this nifty graph to illustrate how we all voted, and I’m sure you all voted that Fred’s alive because you believe it in your hearts; the extra entry had nothing to do with it, right?

Look at that! 97% of us know that Fred’s alive, which must mean…he’s alive!  Hooray!  We saved Fred, had an awesome giveaway, and proved to the world that you can get people to agree with crazy theories for an extra entry into a contest! (P.S. Jen [who also wrote this awesome post on her blog, "Harry Potter and the End of It All"] was totally ready to go with our contest and I flaked out on her.  It is a’coming, so stay tuned!)

Let’s discuss!  Tell me in the comments section when you plan on seeing Deathly Hallows, Part 2.  Who’s your favorite Harry Potter character?  What does it mean to be in Hufflepuff?  Do you support house elf rights? Do you think I should have made the text for this post red and yellow to celebrate Gryffindor? (I thought that would be hard to read.) And…at what age will you stop reading the Harry Potter books? 

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