The Fifty Bookish Questions Book Tag

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I love doing posts like this. I found this from Arctic Books, and I thought this would be a fun way for y’all to understand my reading habit and why I pick certain books. Let’s get started!

1. What was the last book you read?

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One. I really enjoyed that collection. You can see my post about it here.

2. Was it a good one?

I thought so.

3. What made it good?

I loved how it made me think about current social issues.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?

I definitely would.

5. How often do you read?

Not as often as I’d like. Having a two-year-old prevents that sometimes.

6. Do you like to read?


7.What was the last bad book you read?

I don’t know if it was bad per se, but I wasn’t the hugest fan of Breaking the Glass Slipper.

8. What made you dislike it?

Just wasn’t my jam.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?

Eh? I have a book idea in mind, but I don’t really know if I’m going to go through with it. For now, I’m really happy with blogging.

10. Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

Some books that have really touched me are The Princess Saves Herself in This One, The Alchemist, and Carry On Warrior.

11. Do you read fan fiction?


12. Do you write fan fiction?


13. What’s your favorite book?

Trying to pick a favorite is like trying to pick your favorite child. It’s impossible.

14. What’s your least favorite book?

Moby Dick. I hate Melville.

15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?

I love both for different reasons. Physical books are just so satisfying. My Kindle allows me to read with a kid on my lap.

16. When did you learn to read?

I think a little before kindergarten.

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

There were so many! But if I have to choose one, I think it would be The Bell Jar.

18. What is your favorite book series?

Harry Potter for sure.

19. Who is your favorite author?

Fiction: don’t really think I can pick one.

Non fiction: Brittany Gibbons

20. What is your favorite genre?

Either fantasy or historical fiction.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?

Hermione and Matilda. I really connected and identified with both of them.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

Don’t they all?

23.Which book do you wish had a sequel?

Everything, Everything. It was so sweet!

24. Which book do you wish DIDN’T have a sequel?

Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. I was never a fan of either series.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?

If I can be left alone and read, a couple days. If I have a crazy kid and husband to deal with, it could take FOREVER.

26. Do you like when books become movies?

Sometimes. Some adaptations are amazing, while others are just ok.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?

I think Ender’s Game. I wasn’t a fan.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?

I feel the Lord of the Rings series were pretty spot on.

29. Do you read newspapers?

No, but I should.

30. Do you read magazines?

From time to time.

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

Probably magazines.

32. Do you read while in bed?

It’s one of my preferred spots.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?

You gotta do what you gotta do.

34. Do you read while in the car?

If it’s a long car ride, yes. Books helped me survive the 13-hour trips to Michigan.

35. Do you read while in the bath?

Haven’t tried it.

36. Are you a fast reader?

When a book has really captured my interest, yes.

37. Are you a slow reader?

When I have lots of distractions, yes.

38. Where is your favorite place to read?

Probably on my couch under a blanket.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?


40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?

I would prefer it to be quiet.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?

Probably my dad.

42. What book is next on your list to read?

I’m currently reading Quackery, but after that I don’t really know.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?


44. Who is your favorite children’s book author?

Roald Dahl.

45. Which author would you most want to interview?

JK Rowling for sure.

46. Which author do you think you’d be friends with?

Brittany Gibbons. She’s a badass and super funny.

47. What book have you reread the most?

Either the Harry Potter series or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

48. Which books do you consider “classics”?

Books that have stood the test of time and are still relevant today.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?


50. Which books should be banned from all schools?


Do you agree/disagree with my answers? Fill this out for yourself!


Amanda Lovelace Poetry

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Something that I always tell myself I need to read more of is poetry. I love that poetry collections are usually a quick read, but they make you think and feel so many things in not so many words. That takes a great deal of talent, and Amanda Lovelace does a wonderful job of doing just that.

These books have been floating around in my head for a little while, and I don’t know why I didn’t read them sooner. Maybe because I wasn’t meant to have them yet…maybe I needed to be at this point in my life to fully appreciate them.

Both collections are broken into four sections, and each progresses in a logical manner. They both have a clear journey and allow the reader to kind of make their own ending.

The Princess Saves Herself In This One made me feel so many things. Part of me wishes I had this collection when I was in high school and was dealing with far more body image issues. I loved how this book was so empowering. It legitimately made me cry. I also love that Lovelace used the fairy tale archetype to tell her story.


While Princess made me feel, The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One made me think. This collection is much more “I am woman, hear me roar” than Princess. Lovelace wants women to take control of their own lives and to stand up for themselves, and I feel this collection really captures that feeling.


I can’t wait to read her new collection, The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in this One. Spring 2019 is so far away!

What poetry should I read next?

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

In case you’ve been under a rock (or caught by Devil’s Snare), you’ve probably heard that a new Harry Potter mobile game came out. I was so excited to hear about this. I was on the waiting list, I was on the email notification list, I was dedicated. So when it came out, you bet I downloaded it and started playing immediately.

I love that you get to build your character to look like you…but hate the fact that some accessories cost a lot of in-game money. 100 gems for glasses?! I did the best I could with the tools I had.

During the Sorting Ceremony, instead of taking a personality quiz a la Pottermore, you get to pick your house. Naturally, I chose Hufflepuff…and I’m glad I did. The Common Room is exactly how I imagined it to be. It’s so warm and cozy. It reminds me of a hobbit house with the round doors and all the sunlight. I wish this were real so I could actually be in there!

You’ll soon come across the most annoying part of the game. You’re going along, trying to complete missions (you have to tap the screen in order to use energy)…

…and then you’re completely out of energy. You run out rather quickly. Sometimes each activity takes 4 or 5 energy to complete. Energy replenishes itself every 4 minutes, but each activity is timed, so if you run out of time you have to redo the task.

I think I’m willing to deal with the annoying parts of the game just to have another Harry Potter experience.

Have you downloaded the game yet?

Happy Birthday!

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It’s my blogging anniversary today! I’ve been playing with this site for 8 years now. Can you believe it?! It’s certainly grown up along the way, and I think I have too.

I started this blog as What Fiction Means, and I intended it to be solely a book review blog. I got bored with that idea pretty quickly. Now it’s morphed into Meaning Beyond Words, a bookish lifestyle blog, and I’m really enjoying the feel of this more. I’m posting more consistently (although I’d like to do it even more), I’m putting more thought and care into my posts and pictures…I’m treating this like a real thing.

I think I’ve grown as a blogger over the years. I’m trying to be a bit more analytical with my book reviews. I still struggle with finding the balance between research paper and simple review, but I think I’m getting there. Adding more lifestyle posts breaks things up, and I hope you guys can connect to me more this way.

Happy 8th birthday blog! Here’s to many more!

Grad School Decisions

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Something that I’ve wanted to do for a while now is get my Masters’ degree. Although getting a pay bump is a huge plus, the main reason I want to get it is because it’s something that I want to do for me. I had always thought that I’d get it in English, then later pursue a Doctorate degree, but since I’m not in education anymore, I don’t really know how much that would benefit me. Now I think I’ve really decided on what I want to do.

I want to get my MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science).

I think this is going to be a really fun program, with lots of benefits:

I get to be around books all the time.

Sounds like every bookworm’s dream, right? I can look at books all day long! I can check out all the books I want and fulfill my book cravings.

I can help people.

I love that I can help people find their new favorite book. I can also help them with getting their passport, completing a research project, and pretty much everything else they would need.

I can have more time with my son.

This is the big one for me. I’d like to get the dual certification as a media specialist so I can work in a school setting. I would basically have the same schedule as my son, so I can spoil him rotten and spend as much time as possible with him.

I think the one thing that is really holding me back right now is money. If I just get the MLIS without the media specialist certification, I would save myself about $4000. But at the same time…I don’t know if I’d make it back to school again in order to get my certificate. Plus, I’m trying to go back to school with no additional student loans. I’m still paying off my Bachelors’ degree, and I graduated in 2012! I’ve started a little nest egg for school, so slowly I’ll be able to afford it.

Any suggestions on what path I should take and how to afford it? Leave me some comments!

The Celestine Prophecy


A book that has been passed from hand to hand, from friend to friend, since it first appeared in small bookshops across America, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY is a work that has come to light at a time when the world deeply needs to read its words. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life…and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimism as you head into tomorrow.

This book certainly seems to promise a lot, doesn’t it?

I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked it up at Books by the Pound (more on this wonderful store in a later post). I thought it would just be a fun, short adventure book. However, I wasn’t expecting to think some deep thoughts, you know what I mean?

The deep thoughts are spiritual-esque in nature; author James Redfield focuses a lot on the concept of synchronicity, meaning that coincidences are more important and insightful that one would originally think. I feel like I agree with that idea somewhat. I’ve had some experiences in my life that lined up a little too perfectly, and I thought that something or someone was working in the background. I started reading The Celestine Prophecy with an open mind because of my previous experiences, and because I’m starting to explore my spirituality a bit more.

The story starts with the male main character (which is nameless, probably to have more of an everyman feel) at a metaphorical crossroads in his life, when “coincidentally” he meets up with an old friend who tells him about a mysterious manuscript in Peru that will totally change his life. Naturally, he hops on a plane the next day and flies to Peru, where he meets with people from different walks of life who are all after the same manuscript.

But what’s in the manuscript?

In this book, there are nine Insights that the characters realize throughout the plot. These Insights, in my super-basic understanding, illustrate the point that everything and everyone is connected to one another, and our interactions are a kind of energy struggle. I don’t necessarily hate this concept, but it’s definitely something new to wrap my brain around. I do feel that we’re all connected, but I don’t know if I necessarily buy the energy struggle idea. There are three more books in the series, and I plan on reading the rest. If anything, I’ll learn more about this interesting topic.

Where have all the Polish-Americans gone?: Guest Post by Donna Urbikas

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Lately, and surprisingly, there’s been much in the news about Poland, not all very encouraging if you are a student of democracy.  But what about Polish-Americans like me?  What news of us?  Have we all assimilated so quietly and deeply into American culture that our Polish heritage and culture has given way to nothing more than football, hot dogs, and peanut butter?  Shame on us if it has.  Most Americans (defined by their family’s American longevity and multi-ethnic blood) with whom I talk about my book, My Sister’s Mother:  A Memoir of War, Exile, and Stalin’s Siberia, don’t know much about what happened during World War II in Poland, and why it matters in today’s political climate.

For most Americans, World War II began in 1941 with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  By then, Russia or the Soviet Union under Stalin, known as “Uncle Joe” by Americans, was already an ally of America, Britain, and France.  Little attention gets paid in American history books to the crucial fact that it was not only Nazi Germany who attacked Poland in 1939 at the real start of World War II, but also Communist Soviet Russia, only two weeks later.  My mother and sister were caught up in all that when they were deported from what was then eastern Poland by the Soviets to a Siberian labor camp.  The book is also about what it was like growing up with a mother who talked non-stop about her wartime ordeals, my trying to assimilate into American culture, and coming to terms with the fact that I would never have the same bond with my mother that my sister had.

My Sister’s Mother is about that immigrant experience, what it was like growing up Polish-American, accepting the fact that one is never completely at home in the world when war and exile has imposed itself.  What does “home” mean to us Polish-Americans, often with one foot in American culture and the other in Polish culture, stubbornly clinging onto what our parents, grandparents, ancestors experienced?  Those from earlier waves of immigration, before the world wars, whose identity is wrapped up in vestiges of Polish culture tied to church, community, food, and music cling to that almost forgotten identity.  What does “home” mean to any immigrant?  How do we identify?  Who are real Americans?  In the current world developments those questions have taken on a new urgency and challenge our commitments.  It is my desire and hope that some of those questions are answered by the story of our family described in My Sister’s Mother:  A Memoir of War, Exile, and Stalin’s Siberia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2016).


DonnaUrbikas 72 dpi FullColorBorn in Coventry, England, Danuta or “Donna” Urbikas immigrated to the USA with her parents and sister, the subjects of the book, in 1952, settling in Chicago, Illinois, and growing up in the Polish community.  After attending Catholic grade schools and a public high school in Chicago, she graduated from the University of Illinois—Chicago Circle with a degree in biology and began teaching high school biology.

In 1976, she took her first trip to Poland to meet relatives and explore her parents’ home towns.  On the cusp of the Solidarity Movement, her movements were restricted by the Communists and the trip became a significant life experience.  Later, she graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering.  The author has published her thesis, technical articles, worked as a teaching and research assistant and served as president of the Society of Women Engineers in Chicago, participating in numerous public speaking engagements.  She went on to work as an environmental engineer and project manager in charge of water and wastewater compliance at coal and nuclear power plants and as an industry spokesperson.

The author is a cancer survivor, currently working as an Illinois Licensed Real Estate Broker, community volunteer, and writer, living in Chicago with her husband. My Sister’s Mother is a finalist in 4 award competitions: Chicago Writers Association, Society of Midland Authors, The Midwest Independent Publishing Association, and Foreword INDIES.

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