The Year of Giveaways: March!

Hello, Readers!

In 2014, I was fortunate to have received dozens and dozens of books, from publishers, friends, authors, and contests. Among all of these acquisitions, however, were a number of duplicates.

So, in 2015, I’ve decided to feature one of these duplicate books each month, and offer that book as a giveaway to one of you! Yes, it’s The Year of Giveaways!

This month, the spotlight is on: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith!

20493997Description: Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

If you would like to win a copy of this excellent book, here’s what you need to do:


  • Must be an e-mail or WordPress subscriber.
  • –Must be 13+ with parental permission if under 18.
  • –Winners must respond to e-mail within 48-hours or new winner selected.
  • –Winners chosen randomly through Rafflecopter.
  • -Giveaway ends at 11pm Central Time (USA) on the last day of the month.

Enter by Completing This Rafflecopter Form

February 2015: Month in Review

downloadFebruary 28th! Wow, that means tomorrow is March 1st. Which means, Spring is coming… right? Gosh, I hope so! This winter hasn’t been as bad as last year, but these last few weeks sure have been cold, cold, cold.

This has been an interesting month, as far as postings here at RBR as well as articles over at’s Classic Lit page. I’ve also been wrapped-up in my “Real Life” jobs of teaching and preparing for my dissertation, and I have two conference presentations coming up later this spring (one in March, one in April).  One of these days I’ll take a vacation, I promise!

So, as we head into March, we’ve now finished two months of #TBR2015RBR and have presented the first two books in Roof Beam Reader’s Year of Giveaways (Book #3 for February will be tomorrow – and it’s a GREAT one!)

Here are some more of the month’s highlights:

Book Reviews & Guides




Roof Beam Reader Updates:

So, that’s my month. Now, what have YOU been up to lately?

The #WisdomOfMerlin Week 5: “Belief”

Full_WisdomofMerlinCountdown to a Meaningful Life

Week 5: Belief

To celebrate the upcoming publication of THE WISDOM OF MERLIN: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life by T.A. Barron, I am participating in a countdown campaign based on Merlin’s answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?” Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Each week we will focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help readers acknowledge, reflect, practice and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest. We continue this week with Belief.  


“Belief is a powerful elixir. It offers strength, renewal, and peace to those who drink it. And your cup can be forever refilled.”

“What inspires belief? The answer is different for each person…Whatever else may lie beyond in the spirit realm, we create our own heaven and hell – by the choices we make in the lives we are given.”

Famous Quotes on Belief:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Gandhi 

  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” –Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  • “When you believe a thing, believe in it all the way.” –Walt Disney 

Inspiring Movies about Belief:

Belief can be more than a religious faith; it can be directed towards family, friends, a greater good for humanity, on any outside force that gives us hope. Many movies focus on this power of belief and can be an inspiration for all ages.

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)George Bailey spends his entire life giving-up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls. Broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan, he eventually regains his belief in life and himself after being shown how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born.
  • The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)A bright and talented salesman struggling to make ends meet finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When he lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships in pursuit of his dream and belief of a better life for the two of them.
  • Wall-E (2008)In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently discovers a new purpose in life when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. WALL-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to giving hope back to the planet’s future.
  • Life of Pi (2012) - The survival story of a boy and a tiger on a life boat at open sea.  In a struggle to survive, Pi and the tiger forge an unexpected connection that gives him daily motivation to live. Life of Pi is a tale of faith, hope, and the fight to survive. 

Activate, Engage, or Practice: 

  • What are some things you believe in? Write a list or post in your journal about some of the things that keep you going in life. 
  • Find a quiet spot to sit and meditate on your beliefs and on the values that give you strength. Ten minutes of reflection each day can uplift your spirit and help keep you motivated to stick by your principles when hard times arise. 
  • Learning about other people’s beliefs can help expand your own. Talk to a friend about their beliefs and share your own as well.

For more inspiration visit or like:

Thoughts: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 4.0

Station Eleven begins, ironically and appropriately, in a theater with a staging of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Three of the novel’s recurring characters are first encountered in this opening scene, a moment in time that will be revisited throughout the novel. As the pages unfold, and the Traveling Symphony makes its way through a dangerous Midwestern landscape, ancient literature—from the Bible to Shakespeare—will become central in rebuilding culture and society in a drastically altered world .

Arthur Leander, Jeevan Chaudhary, and Kirsten Raymonde: three strange and special lives destined to intersect as one world ends and another begins. Over the course of decades, in the old, pre-plague world and the new world of survivors, the lives of these few characters, as well as the dark prophet child who grows up to be more sociopath than saint, begin to reflect the power, the beauty, the fear, the ability, the evils, and the resilience of the human spirit.  

Although this story cannot exist without its characters, I found many of them rather superficial throughout most of the book. This may be because the reader’s attention is drawn between the development of the characters and the effects of the apocalyptic tragedy; it may also be a result of the number of characters; it could be because of the multiple perspectives or the dance with time and numerous settings. Suffice to say, it’s a complex world and this often results in a certain distance between reader and characters. That being said, as the story unfolds and the many characters’ backgrounds begin to come together and to interact more closely, and more clearly, the dual worlds (before and after) and major conflicts (good and evil) begin to envelop the characters, resulting in a page-turning climax that makes any earlier lack seem basically innocuous.

One of the best things Station Eleven has going for it is its style and language. This is a distinctly literary work, more reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale than the majority of contemporary dystopian fiction. The prose style and complexity are, quite frankly, a welcome breath of fresh air in a rather over-saturated and underwhelming genre.

So, do you want to be scared out of your mind in a paradoxically beautiful way? Okay, then: read Station Eleven. The balance of realistic and futuristic themes, art and politics, society and wilderness, all work together in bizarre and unexpected ways. St. John Mandel’s talents are expressed in the crafting of each of these individual elements, but most of all in her construction of a symphony that effectively highlights each of her strengths without allowing one or the other to overshadow or outperform the rest. Those expecting a traditional post-apocalyptic novel may be disappointed, but those open to experiencing the dystopian genre in a somewhat softer, more realistic, and character-centered (rather than event-centered) way will be pleasantly surprised.

The fluidity of time, the focus on how individuals cope with the change and how larger society functions, how history begins to be rewritten following a worldwide calamity, are elements which coalesce to form a fresh, unique, and disturbingly thought-provoking new work in an age-old and often derivative genre.  

Suggested Reading For:

Age Level: YA+ (skewed toward adult)

Interest: Dystopia, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, Literary.

Notable Quotes:

“Dear friends, I find myself immeasurably weary and I have gone to rest in the forest.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.” 

“No one ever thinks they’re awful, even people who really actually are. It’s some sort of survival mechanism.” 

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.” 

“If your soul left this earth I would follow and find you.”

Week 4: “Wonder” — The #WisdomOfMerlin

Full_WisdomofMerlin“Countdown to a Meaningful Life”

Week 4: Wonder 

To celebrate the upcoming publication of THE WISDOM OF MERLIN: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life by T.A. Barron, we are kicking off a countdown campaign based on Merlin’s answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?” Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

To celebrate the upcoming publication of THE WISDOM OF MERLIN: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life by T.A. Barron, I am participating in a countdown campaign based on Merlin’s answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?” Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Each week we will focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help readers acknowledge, reflect, practice and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest. We continue this week with Wonder.  


“Too often, alas, adults lose their sense of wonder… But I am glad to say they can all be found again.”

“If you set out on a mission seeking wonder, you won’t find it. Instead, take your shoes off, walk barefoot in the world… and allow it to happen.”

Famous Quotes on Wonder:

  • “Wisdom begins in wonder.” –Socrates 
  • “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” –Neil Armstrong
  • “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.” –Rachel Carson

Man-Made Wonders that make you “Wonder”:

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza
  • The Great Wall of China
  • The Taj Mahal
  • The Colosseum

Great People who “Wondered”:

  • Albert Einstein - Now considered the greatest physicist of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein began his career by wondering how he could solve many of the inadequacies in science at the time. Through hard work- and decades of experiments- he developed his groundbreaking theory of relativity, which includes the now famous equation “e=mc2”.[1]
  • Mark Twain - Mark Twain often wondered how the infamous Halley’s Comet would shape his life. Born during the first sighting of the comet in 1835, he predicted that he would pass away 74 years later, during the next sighting. Twain once said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet… It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet.” As if in sync, Twain passed away the day after Halley’s Comet returned.[2]
  • Galileo Galilei - For decades Galileo stared up at the sky and wondered about the sun. Did it circle around us? Did we circle around the sun? After years of observations, he published his findings proving that the sun was indeed the center of the solar system, not the Earth.[3]
  • Confucius - The history and culture of Eastern Asia would not be the same without Confucius and his teachings. A great thinker and philosopher, he often wondered about the potential of human beings. His beliefs introduced a culture of peace, obedience and mutual respect to over five million Chinese citizens. [4] 
  • Jane Goodall – As a young girl in England, Jane wondered about what it would be like to live in Africa.  She dreamed of exploring the land and meeting the wildlife, especially chimpanzees and other primates.  That curiosity drove her to do what no one had done before:  She studied the chimpanzees so closely that she realized that they could make tools, communicate in their basic language, and create a complex social community. Goodall dedicated her life to the chimpanzees, so much so that she inspired millions of people, young and old, to work hard to conserve the planet we share.[5]

For more inspiration visit or like:

Please use #WisdomOfMerlin and @TABarronAuthor when posting on social media