June 2018 Wrap-Up

Summer doesn’t always provide lots of reading time around here like it does for some people.  With the kids at home, my time is spread thin with their demands and activities, so my time to just sit and read is seriously cut.  However, this June proved itself to be different! I was excited to see that I had outdone myself!

img_1188First up was The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin.  I checked this one out from my local library.  Our library rarely has a wait list on new releases, so I just walked right in and picked it up.  I have seen this beautiful cover over and over on social media, so I was intrigued.  In my typical way, I did not read the jacket or any reviews first, I just got right down to reading.  This is often a mistake, but I can’t always judge whether I will like a book based on what other people say–or the synopsis.  This one is about a set of four siblings who go to a fortune teller who tells them the date of their death.  So enters the question: What would you do if you knew the date that you would die?  Live life out loud, fast and dangerous, or live very cautiously and try to go past that date?  Would it matter?  Watching the effect that the knowledge had on each of the four siblings is fascinating.  I don’t think I would react as any of them did.

The stories stretch over multiple decades, and I enjoyed that aspect.  I was not expecting the first section to be quite so graphic sexually, but I powered through.  Parts 2 and 3 were winners for me.  In part 4, things took a southward turn when monkeys became involved.  I guess I see why they were part of the story, but it was just weird for me.  It was sort of like the last book in a series where things get so weird that it doesn’t even sound like the other books that preceded it.  I gave this one 3.5/5 stars.  There are very few people that I would recommend this one to.

Readers, you know I never have only one book going at a time, so on my commute to img_1158work, I was listening to Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.  I’ve had this on my audible account for a LONG time, so I’m sure I got it on sale at some point for cheap.  I listened to this mainly bacause a) I never have read it and b) I wanted to see if it was appropriate for my 11-year-old.  I have heard interviews with Katherine Paterson, and she said that she would not give it to a child that wasn’t ready to read about a kid dying, so me first.  Guys, I was unprepared to cry like that in my car.  Luckily, I was on the way home when I finished.

This is the sweetest story of young friendship and strong females.  I now want to be the Queen of Terabithia myself.  And I want my kids to have their own Terabithia.  I came home telling my daughter that she absolutely needed to read it only to find out that she had watched the movie THE DAY BEFORE!  Ugh.  I’m still going to make her read it.  She said that the death was only mentioned in the movie and that they didn’t actually show the character dying.  Same in the book, but we all know that a book can explain emotion ten fold what a movie can.  I gave it 4.5/5 stars.  Also, I would recommend reading it first before you give it to your 10-year-old to see if  your kid is mature enough for it.  Twelve and up would be fine.

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes is a 1941 children’s classic that I have heard about over and img_1361over from Sarah Mackenzie of The Read Aloud Revival.  My library had it, so I picked it up to preview for my own kids and possibly read aloud to them.  It makes a great read aloud because the chapters are basically short stories all about one family.  My kids enjoyed Chapter 3 about the boy who didn’t want to go to school, so he hopped a train to the next town.  (The boys made it home safely).  I didn’t read too many more chapters past that.  I will encourage my kids to read it later, and we may pick it up as a family again sometime, but now wasn’t the right time for it.  I feel like we are trying to cram so much into the summer as far as reading goes that we don’t have time for everything.  Maybe when the school year starts back.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin.  I got this one as a kindle daily deal back in img_1370December I believe, and am just now picking it up.  I loved The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, which I reviewed here, so I knew I would enjoy this one by the same author.  I was correct.  I read this book in two days, and I was not disappointed.

After a Monica Lewinski type scandal with a congressman, Jane Young needs to reinvent herself away from everyone that ever knew about her.  Turns out, you may not be able to run far enough away from your past, especially when the internet is involved.  This book is also written in four parts.  Part one is told from Aviva’s mom’s perspective.  I’ll admit that I had a little trouble following this at times because it skipped around to a couple of different time periods without notice.  One part was told only in the form of emails and only from one side.  It was very Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I loved it.  One part is told from the wife of the congressman which is a point of view often overlooked in media on the waves of a scandal.  And one part is told from Jane Young.  Bless her heart.  There were lots of likable characters that I could root for, and I was pulled into the story in just a few shorts pages.  I would recommend this book to almost anyone that wants a good book to read.  This is not a romance. 4/5 stars.

img_1373I participated in the #8intwo read-a-thon put on by  25infive Readathon on Instagram June 23-24, and I was able to read a complete eight hours!  I finished Young Jane Young as part of that, but I was also able to complete a couple of other things!  The second finish was the short story The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse by Alan Bradley.  This was $.99 on kindle and is only available by ebook.  It’s a short, fun spin-off on the Flavia de Luce novels by Bradley.  I love all of those, so I knew I would love this.  It took less than an hour to read and had all the usual wit that comes with the 11-year-old chemistry enthusiast.  4/5 stars.

Last to be finished for the read-a-thon was an audiobook: Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan.  This was my first book by her, and I’m on the hunt for myimg_1386 next!  I picked this one up on kindle unlimited (which prime members get one free book a month) and added the Audible narration to my purchase for $1.99 more, or it was on prime reading.  I consider this a total win and will tell you how you can do it for all of your kindle books at the end of this post.

Again, what would you do if you knew you were going to die?  This girl flipped her wig, but in her defense, she also learned two earth-shattering pieces of news on the same day.  I don’t think I would’ve handled things the way she did, but I like her style and I really loved the character.  I would also recommend this one to anyone. 4/5stars.

Ali read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald in no time flat.  I got it at the local Goodwill Bookstore for $1.99.  She enjoyed it and thought it was very funny.  She says that her favorite part was about the radish cure.  She would recommend it to anyone who likes funny books and thinks it would be good to read aloud as a family.

She also read Dork Diaries #12: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe by Rachel Renee Russell.  This is a beloved series for her and she owns most of them.  It never takes more than a day for her to complete any one of them, and I like how it keeps her reading. This is the latest in the series and should be available near you for your third graders and up.

So that’s it for June!!  I feel very accomplished with this list.  I’ve left off one that was a reread, but I am writing a separate post for that series.

Now, for the ebook/audiobook pairings.  When I checked out on Amazon buying the ebook and adding the Audible narration, it sent me to Kindle match maker where it pulled up all the ebooks that I have previously purchased that had and Audible narration available.  I bought a couple of them for $1.99 each, but they were all different prices.  This is a great option for all those ebooks that I’ve hoarded for cheap with good intentions but haven’t read.  Now I can listen on my commute.  When I tried to look up this feature, it took me to Kindle Matchbook for ebooks for $1.99 for which I have previously bought the hard copy.  This is a great option for books that I’ve given as gifts but would like a copy for myself as well, or maybe books that I loved but don’t want the hard copy cluttering my home.

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Park Friends


I’m going to just go on out on a limb and call this a series.  Places I’ve made friends.

Community can come from anywhere.  Sometimes I don’t even see it coming.  The city park is that place for me.

When we first moved to the Jackson area, I had a one year old and my husband spent many long hours in the library as a new law student.  My one year old and I spent countless hours at the local city park.  It had sand as it’s base, and most of the equipment was fine for her to play on, so we would load up our sand toys and a picnic lunch and spend hours there.  That’s where I met a sweet friend who had a little boy the same age.  She turned out to also be a nurse and lived very near us so we made easy conversation.  We lived in that area for four years, and over those years, we did Bible study together, welcomed children into our families, and watched each other succeed in many ways.    When they closed the park for remodeling, we met up at Chick-fil-a to socialize.  That was one of my most unexpected friendships.

When we moved to another new town four hours away, I knew that the park was where I would meet people with kids the same age as my own.  My daughter would enter kindergarten not knowing a single soul, so we hit the park.  I did not have that same experience in the new town.  It wasn’t until t-ball that we started to meet some people that would become sweet friends down the road.  T-ball is a great place to start these friendships because no one is competitive there.  Everything is funny and there’s no pressure for a four year old to play pro next year.  If t-ball has already passed for you, take heart, I’ve made better friends on up.

Softball came next for us.  While I’m not texting or calling these moms on a daily basis, I have met some wonderful people and gleaned a great deal of wisdom from some of them.  A lot of these women were there supporting their younger children which were the same age as my oldest.  Conversations about child rearing are invaluable.  People are generally willing to share very openly when you are willing to listen.  Now, four to five years later, we have watched each others’ kids grow and succeed.  Some of them are so much fun to watch improve.  Beware though, true colors come out at that ballpark.  And in Mississippi, crazy comes out with its colors on.  There’s no hiding it at the ballpark.

We signed up our son for t-ball in another town so he could play at an earlier age.  This was somewhat taxing on our family due to schedules, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell my three-almost four year old that he couldn’t play ball.  He was so serious about it–still is.  I met lots of people in that new town and Spencer met some life-long friends.  One of the families already had some mutual friends with us, so we hit it right off, and our boys get along great.  They are going to be fun to watch as they grow older.

Baseball and soccer have been mostly a treat.  Remember, I said that all the colors come out at the park.  I’ve met some wonderful people.  Hopefully, those friendships will grow and develop over the years.  When all of our children are on the same team, I believe we will have a blast.  This past year was a lot of fun because our team contained a lot of church friends.  Soccer was excellent because our team contained a lot of school friends.  I’ll talk more about them in the next post.  It is so much fun to cheer on my friends’ kids.

Have you met friends at the park?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!  I just never know who will be a friend next and I love hearing other people’s stories!

New Year, New Reads

New year, new me! Or at least a freshly committed me. For now. I have high hopes though!

I started looking at reading challenges sometime in December but didn’t officially choose one (or three) until January first. I am participating in three because they are all so different and they all only have 10-12 books each. My book goal is 50 this year. I read 74 last year, so I can handle three challenges knowing I read that many books a year. Do Not Compare Yourself To Me. I can’t stress that enough. There were years that I read one or two books and didn’t think twice about it. You do you.

So, the first challenge I’m participating in is A Literary Feast’s challenge. It’s just one book a month and it’s very doable. There is a Facebook group for discussion and motivation. If you do this challenge, you will have read 12 books this year. That alone is nothing to sneeze at!

Next, I’m over on Instagram where there are so many good things happening. I’ve decided to participate in The Classics Challenge with @happylittlebirdy and @charlottereadsbooks. It is also only 12 books and these two challenges will bleed into each other as well, more on that in a minute. I’m looking forward to broadening my reading a little this year.

Instagram also has some stirrings of #theunreadshelfproject2018 which would be a challenge in and of itself easily. I am somewhat doing that by reading as many from my shelves as possible to complete each challenge. The rest will come from either the library or borrowing/exchanging with friends.

Lastly, I’m planning to do the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge as well. It also only calls for 12 books. I have done hers in the past and had a lot of fun. I only fell short of three categories last year out of 24, so that was a win.

My rules for myself are that one book can cross over to two different challenges, but one book can’t cover two categories in the same challenge. Also, if you’re wanting to see my “plan” on which books I will be reading, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I have no plan. I’m full on flying by the seat of my pants on book choices with the exception of a few that I’m playing around with.

I want to hear what you’re doing this year! Drop a comment here or find me on Instagram @notsotriplec. Also, follow the links and check out all these challenges to see if you want to participate as well!

Also, these are totally the pictures off each of these websites. I’ll make my own someday, but I’m basically advertising for these ladies for now.

January Reads

Look here! Keeping up from the start! January was pretty productive I’d say.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I picked this one up over the holidays as a Kindle Daily Deal for $2.99 maybe. WORTH IT. I would pay full price for this one. Set in both WWI and post WWII, this is the story of Eve, a WWI spy in the infamous Alice Network, and Charlie, a young woman looking for her lost cousin, and how their lives intersect through some bizarre circumstances and one very evil man.

First off, I have so much to learn about history. This is stuff they leave out in high school and college. I didn’t even know The Alice Network was a thing. Now, I’m so intrigued by these strong, brave women and men and all they did toward ending the war. Fascinating. The post war story line is not nearly as interesting as Eve’s story, but I thought they went together just fine. It had a bit more sex in it than I expected, but not graphic enough to make me stop reading it. Trigger warning on a torture scene. Very well done on the author’s part. I felt like I was going through it myself. (That’s my last trigger warning ever. I hate the word and I hate that people ever go through something that would keep them from enjoying a well written book, but I’ve quit books midway before over one event, so I get it.) Now I’m off to read every book Kate Quinn has ever written. (5 stars)

This one counts as my “book with more than 500 pages” for the MMD challenge. I didn’t realize it was that long reading it on kindle, but I read this thing in three days. Don’t let the size intimidate you. It’s so fast paced that you’ll blow through it and not even care. Promise.

I abandoned The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. I checked this one out from my local library, and as you can see, she’s been around awhile. I love it! This book holds some history (and a 2017 bookmark).

This is my “book published in the year you were born” for A Literary Feast’s challenge. This is a monthly challenge, but I may still come back to this category later in the year.

People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann. There is a whole series of these books, but I believe this is the first. This one was literally laugh-out-loud funny. I had no idea this woman existed, but now I follow her hilarious blog. This book has been sitting on my kindle for actual ages, and I read it as part of my attempt to read my shelves. (That’s two down if you’re counting this year.) This counts as “a book of essays” over on the MMD book challenge. (4 stars)

The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. This was apparently a blog post that went viral and was turned into a short book. I picked it up a really long time ago as a kindle daily deal for cheap not knowing a thing about it. I really should start reading summaries of books! Anyway, this was a somewhat interesting look at your Should (things required of you, like work) and Must (basically, your calling) and how there’s a push and pull between the two. The author tells you how to look for your Must and a little on how to follow it. This book counted as “a book you can finish in a day” since it was super short and a lot of the pages were filled with artsy quotes and drawings. While I didn’t love it, it would maybe be good for a high school senior or a college student? (3 stars)

The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun. This was probably one of the very first books I bought on kindle back when I first got it about a year and a half ago. I can’t remember why I bought this except maybe it was cheap and listed next to books like Kisses from Katie? Anyway, again, I had no idea what I was about to read.

This is the story of how a very young guy founded a hugely successful nonprofit (for-purpose) organization. He started with $25 and a dream and now has built hundreds of schools all over the world. He still may not be thirty. It really is a fascinating story and definitely worth the read for anyone who has a dream in their heart but is struggling with how to start the chase. Head over to to check out their work. (4 stars)

This counts as “a memoir” on the MMD challenge. Looks like I may finish that one first.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. I picked this one up in December as a KDD for cheap. I also saw that this was a Book of the Month pick at some point last year. This was my first Lehane who is more known for Shutter Island and a couple of others. I hear tell that this is his first book with a woman protagonist. I could tell.

I did not enjoy this book at all. It starts with Rachel looking for her father while holding on to a lot of resentment for her deceased mother and then takes a sharp turn when she goes to Haiti to work as a reporter after the earthquake and then again after a hurricane. She has a mental breakdown that leads to agoraphobia, but she gets married for a second time in there somewhere. That second husband turns out to be a total con man while she is a shut in. Suddenly, bam! She’s cured! She’s out driving a car, following her husband, firing weapons at people, and being a general badass with no morals, I guess?? Geez. It all somewhat comes together at the end, but after laughing out loud at some of the intense parts, I was already done. “Thriller” is not my normal genre, so that may be where I was lost, but I know there are better written ones out there. (2.5 stars)

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I bought a pack of 10 books for $10 from scholastic through my kids’ school and this was included, but I think we may have more than one copy around here somewhere. Anyway, it was a cheapy. I’ve never been assigned to read this book, so I feel like my childhood was somewhat lacking. I don’t know. I’ve heard Sara McKenzie (over on the Read Aloud Revival) talking about this being a good one to read aloud to kids lately on her podcast and wanted to check it out before I just started in. She alluded to an uncomfortable storyline, and I can see how one would maybe want to leave out the cheater mom when reading it aloud to young children. It’s not even really that important to the over all story.

Brian is a 13 year old boy who survives a plane crash while headed to Northern Canada for the summer. The pilot dies suddenly and tragically, and Brian is left totally alone and to his own devices for survival. He is so impressive. He has some serious resourcefulness and perseverance. A great read for a boy, young or old. So glad I read it. Now I want to discuss it with my kids, so we will be picking it up soon!

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller. This one was free on Prime Reading, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the audio was free with it, so I listened to a large portion while I did my ironing one day.

Kimberly was raised by hoarders. She didn’t have a name for their condition until later in life, but she was keenly aware that her life at home was very different from other kids. Hearing her describe her home life as “squalor” was heartbreaking. I found it interesting that her parents interacted very differently when they were away from home than when they were at home in their junk.

Jesus is Better

img_9613It’s no secret that I greatly enjoy following Jamie Ivey ‘s life.  I listen to her weekly podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, follow her on social media, and read her blog.  Most recently, I was beyond honored to be chosen to participate in the launch team for her book!  I have been waiting on this for a long time.  Waiting for her to tell her story.  It aligns with mine in several ways.

In If You Only Knew, she lays everything on the line and bares her actual heart.  If you only knew her past, you might not think she’s worthy of being a pastor’s wife and so greatly used by God.  That’s the whole point.  None of us are worthy, but God has a way of redeeming stories and making beauty from those ashes.  I could go on and on.  I gave this book 5 stars hands down.  Well written and a true breath of fresh air with its honesty and transparency.  Some of its readers will be agog at the fact that she put all this on paper and sent it out into the world, but I am so grateful.  It’s a story that HAS to be told.

Jamie talks about her life growing up in the church and how she was a full participant there and in the party scene of high school which left her knowing ABOUT Jesus but not being in love with Jesus.  Her college experience is riddled with sin and pregnancies.  She was the most reluctant Jesus follower ever there for a while.  But when Jesus saved her, He did a true work.  Glory, hallelujah!  He makes all things new.  Whatever you’re in.  Jesus is better.  Whatever you’ve done.  Jesus is better.  Wherever you’re going.  Jesus is better.  That’s the mantra now.  Jesus is better.

And there’s no better time to preorder her book!  Today, December 12, 2017, when you preorder her book and then redeem your purchase on www.IfYouOnlyKnewBook.net, you are entered to win prizes and jewelry from Noonday Collection and Waterloo Style.  You also get a coupon code from Waterloo Style.  I redeemed mine for the cutest earrings around.  If you purchase this book as a Christmas gift (which you absolutely should), you will receive a download for a print out about the book which comes out January 18, 2018. And the ebook is only $9.99 right now!  WORTH IT!

This is a book that will be well worn in my house and in my circle of friends.  Check it out now and get yourself a copy and a copy for anyone you know who needs to know that Jesus is Better.

Work Friends

In the real life, outside the interwebs, I am a Labor and Delivery nurse.  I work the night shift at a somewhat local hospital three nights a week.  This is the fourth hospital that I’ve worked L&D at, and they all have a lot in common.

I’ve met some of my dearest friends at work.  When you work 12 hour shifts three nights a week with the same people for years, you get to know them quite well.  It’s basically a slumber party three nights a week–without the pranks of course…mostly.  Over the years, there has been so much laughter and a lot of tears, too.  Your lives get intertwined somehow, even when you don’t necessarily live that close to one another.  I’ve celebrated birthdays and holidays, new life and beautiful life, new jobs and retirement, love and loss with some of the greatest people in the world.  I seriously have no idea how I would survive without my work friends.

Those same sweet friends have been so good to me, too.  When I got married, they were there.  When I had my babies, they were literally right there, in the room.  When our family has moved, they were so supportive and helped me cope.  When I don’t want to do this nurse gig anymore, they ground me and remind me that it’s only 12 days a month and it’s a WONDERFUL job!  When my husband was burned and stayed in the hospital 10 days and we didn’t get back in our house for over two weeks and I was pregnant with one and had a three year old, they were the absolute best and made sure my family ate. The day shift works with the night shift and visa versa to help make sure none of us miss out on things with our families that start early or late.  We’ve been on road trips together, to ladies’ conferences, on shopping trips. I could literally go on and on.  Dang, I love my work friends.

You know who else I love at my job?  My patients.  Most of them are only with me for a few hours–12 max, but every once in awhile, I will have one for several days or weeks or months at times.  Those are the ones that I can sit and listen to and learn about.  Those are the ones that share their hearts and stories.

I took care of a patient several times during her pregnancy a while back, and over those weeks, I learned so much about her family’s story.  There was some serious loss.  Lots of abuse and heartache.  The few of the family that is left are very close.  After hearing what little bits of their story that I did, I hugged mine a little closer and I really am grateful for that patient and her family and I’m grateful they have each other.  And now they have a baby to love.  Somehow, a baby brings people closer together and brings joy where there is so much hurt.

Also, having babies almost every day can be so much fun!  My favorite thing at work is for a new dad to tear up at the sound of their child’s first cry.  I’ve cried at other people’s deliveries over and over.  I didn’t even cry at either of my own.  There is nothing like witnessing a family welcome new life.  I do thank God for giving me that privilege.

Honestly, I want to quit sometimes.  When I have missed four soccer games in a row due to my work schedule, I want to trade it all in for a 9-5, but I know I would be so unhappy working 20 days a month instead of 12 and not having days off when I just sit on my couch and read and wash clothes and dishes while my whole family is gone to work and school.  Life is full of choices.  Work friends and the community we build there make those choices a whole lot easier.

November Collaboreads

I’m late on this.  And when I say on this, I mean soooooo late to this party.  I told myself back in January that I was going to participate in collaboreads with Rachel A. Dawson and  Taz+Belly this year as another way to immerse myself in the bookish community.  I’ve got a lot of warm feelings for this community, and I want to dive in.  Here it is, November, and I’m just now doing my first blog to participate.  Major eye roll.

img_9509-2Anyway, November was read a book older than you, and I chose The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams published in 1978.  It was originally a radio read aloud–I am so intrigued by this!  It has since been a play, a movie, a TV series, comic books, and more.  People love this thing.  It’s been sitting on my Kindle as a TBR for ages.  I picked it up as a Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99 one day and decided this was a perfect time to go ahead and knock it out.

Arthur Dent is just a regular guy living a regular life somewhere in England.  He thinks he has regular friends and a regular job.  One of his friends, Ford Perfect, is not so regular after all.  Ford turns out to be an alien and saves Arthur by taking him into outer space when Earth is destroyed.  They end up in hiding on a spaceship with an incredible cast of characters that take them to places light years away.  Arthur learns things about Earth that he never dreamed could be real–the mice here are actually experimenting on us, not the other way around–and is shown The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to help him understand all that is going on and how to get through it.

Thinking about what the author is trying to tell us through this book, I reflect on how small our actual existence is in the grand scheme of things.  The universe is so huge!  I think that if we thought for a minute how small we actually are, we wouldn’t let a lot of  things bother us the way they do.  Adams also encourages me to take myself less seriously.  No one is getting out of here alive.

This book is hilarious if you can picture it all happening in your head.  I had trouble doing that at times, but the humor was not lost on me.  It ended quite abruptly, but it is a series of six, so I’m sure that it ends cleanly somewhere along the line.  I do not intend to continue on in the series since sci-fi isn’t really my genre, but I sure am glad I read this and I would highly recommend it to anyone that: enjoys sci-fi, wants to read outside their comfort zone, enjoys humor, and teenage boys.  At just 180 pages, it can be read quite quickly.  I’m so glad I picked this one up.  I hope you will, too.  Let me know in the comments if you have and what you thought.

Also, y’all know I love podcasts.  This selection is no exception.  I listened to this episode of Literary Disco about this title and it did not disappoint.  Also, for those of you, like me, that didn’t know about this podcast, it is Rider Strong (yes, children of the 90’s, from Boy Meets World) and two of his friends talking books and SO MUCH MORE.  **Language alert, so I wouldn’t listen in the car with kids.

Thanks for stopping by here today!  This post contains affiliate links.

May 2017 Reads

May gets HOT.  However, I’m here for it.  I want to sit outside with a sweaty glass of ice water and read a book while the kids play in the sprinkler after school.  Baseball and softball are in full swing, so a lot of time is spent running from field to field to try and catch everyone’s games.  We also rely on sweet friends to walk our kids to the next field when I have to work and can’t be at the ballpark to watch and my husband is coaching one of our kids.  That ball field, man.  It can run your life if you let it.  This is why we only play baseball and softball in the spring.  We refuse to commit to anything besides park league while our kids are small and I work night shift.  More on that later.

My peeps at work and I decided to do our own rendition of a book club.  We each picked a book and drew numbers to see what order we would read them in.  Everyone went to used bookstores and online to Thrift Books and got them all as cheaply as possible, then we read.  We didn’t try to read them at the same time since some of us read slower than others, and we made a pact not to get crazy when someone stopped participating.  We were just chill about it and had fun.  That said, some of these books in May are from that little exercise.

img_9511The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This was my book club pick and I got my beat up copy from Thrift books for $3.49, I believe.  I had heard RAVE reviews of this book.  People on the interwebs LOVE this book.  Some even own multiple copies with different covers and just can’t get enough!  I am NOT that girl.  I don’t know if it was all that hype that had my expectations over the moon or what, but I just didn’t get it.  This is a story of a boy and girl who are pitted against each other very early in life and trained in magic by famous magicians.  Someone has to die, but of course, they fall in love.  There was a lot of back and forth between story lines and years.  I felt like I needed a chart to keep it all straight, so I was just mostly lost.  I’m sure it would’ve made more sense if I could’ve kept the timeline arranged in my head.  Their way of dueling was also lost on me.  I can appreciate the imagery, for sure, but it didn’t make up for the way I fumbled through the story lost.  Very disappointing considering all that talk.

It’s Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn’t Choose by Melanie Dale.  I’ve looked at img_9514this book for a long time and was excited to see it for $1.99 on Kindle Daily Deals one day.  I think I need to start reading the back cover of books.  I judged this one by the title and cover, and I was excited to read it.  It has taken me quite a long time to learn to love this town we live in and the people that are here, and I was looking forward to some encouragement in that.  This book was only partially that book.  Dale has three adopted children with special needs, and she talks mostly about loving the hand that you’re dealt as far as family and kids.  She is funny, so that’s a huge plus.  I follow her on social media and enjoy her presence there.  I will definitely give another of her books a chance.  Also, I listened to a podcast featuring Melanie, and she’s a hoot.

IMG_8616The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg.  This is the second in a series of three and I got all three at once on Kindle Daily Deals for $1.99/each.  You can read my review of the first one here.  A friend had posted her review of them on Goodreads, so I was interested, and when I saw them for cheap, I grabbed them.  This is a full on YA trilogy.  Stereotypical in every single way.  This second one was far better than the first.  The plot played out with much more interest.  I enjoyed the main character more.  She’s smart and resourceful.  I will be back for round three…eventually.

 

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore.  This one, too, was a Kindle Daily Deal.  Surprise, img_9516surprise.  I love Drew Barrymore.  I enjoy most of her movies with the exception of Riding in Cars with Boys.  Drew should stick to acting.  She is no writer.  She would be sad to hear that because she expresses her love of it in this book.  This is her memoir.  She’s been through a lot.  I knew that, but some of it was really hard to read about.  I had such high hopes for her last marriage which she describes in a fairytale type way, but I looked it up later and see that she’s gotten another divorce.  I think she may need to read Scary Close.  She’s jacked up.  It’s mostly due to her upbringing, or lack there of, but after 30, you have to start owning these things and making better choices.  I would recommend this to anyone who likes her or likes memoirs, but don’t go into it with high hopes about the actual writing.

img_9512Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  This was another one from our work book club.  This is the first in a series of four, and the friend that picked this book couldn’t have picked a better one for herself.  This is exactly her genre.  This is a retelling of Cinderella with a very futuristic, dystopian twist.  It was a fast, light read, and I’m still debating reading any of the others.  I enjoyed it over all.  My copy of this book came from Thrift Books online for $3.49.

 

 

Better Than New: Lessons I’ve Learned from Saving Old Homes (and How They Saved Me) img_9515by Nicole Curtis.  I have a not so secret love for Nicole.  I’ve seen every episode of Rehab Addict about seven times.  My life long dream is to live in a Victorian home even if that means lots of repairs and upkeep.  My husband doesn’t share this desire which is why we live in a 1960s split level which still needs lots of repairs and a ridiculous amount of upkeep.  Cue the eye roll.  But I digress.  This is a great look behind the scenes of the show into Nicole’s actual personal life.  She’s incredible.  I admire her grit.  I do think she needs some counseling, but we could all use a little of that.  I enjoyed her parallels of life change that coincided with different houses that I recognized from the show.  Very good.  Another KDD cheapy.

img_9513The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  This was next up on the work book club list.  Again with the Thrift Books.  My particular copy was ROUGH and included a good bit of water damage.  I didn’t mind this, but buyer beware when ordering used books.  So this book was exactly what it claimed to be–funny, light-hearted.  We all loved it.  Don is an autistic man who has no idea that he’s any different than anyone else.  He has a gross friend that he doesn’t totally understand, and that’s exactly the friend that sort of sets him up with Rosie.  Don is looking for a wife in an unusual way when he stumbles upon Rosie who is not his match at all on paper.  Poor Rosie has no idea about any of this nonsense.  I love Don and Rosie’s relationship and how they interact.  A great book club read.

Not bad for one month.  That puts my yearly total up to 30.  DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO ME.  A lot of joy has been sucked right out of my life by comparison.  Don’t do it.  I do hope that you’ll let me know if you read any of these and enjoy them.  I also want to know if you completely disagree with my point of view and why.  I like to hear differing opinions.  I also want to hear where you buy cheap books!

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April 2017 Reads

I love spring.  We live in the woods.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  Our house is shaded by hickory and oak trees.  In the fall, when all those acorns and hickory nuts are falling, I’m no fan since it sounds like a battle going on when the wind blows, but SPRING!! In the spring, every tree around us starts putting out apple green leaves and there is so much life!  One of my favorite things is to look out my back windows after a rain and see the sharp contrast of the dark tree trunks to the bright leaves.  Spring is new beginnings and baseball/softball around here, and it makes me want to enjoy some new books.

IMG_9399Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.  A favorite of the year for me!  I snagged this one for $1.99 as a Kindle Daily Deal after hearing it mentioned in conjunction with Towles’ newest novel A Gentleman in Moscow.  This one took me back to the times of The Great Gatsby–another favorite of mine.  This is set in 1930’s New York, and all the glamour that goes with it makes me long for times gone by.  One woman is making the city all hers and she’s not letting an indecisive man stop her.  The characters are so well developed and their stories twist and intermingle in beautiful ways.  This one left me hungry for more of that era and more of Towles’ writing style.  It’s a good thing I’ve got his next one on my shelf!

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller.  I bought thisIMG_9400 as a Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99 strictly going by the title.  I’m all about community, and I’ll read most anything I run across that hints at the idea.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but this isn’t what I was expecting.  In this book, Miller is discussing friendship intimacy in some ways, but mostly he’s talking about letting your guard down and letting people get close to you in the ways he was challenged to do while dating his now wife.  If you or someone you know has relationship and commitment issues, this is a book for you.  Miller discusses unhealthy habits and character flaws that keep true intimate relationships from forming while taking a long, hard look at himself as well.  Very good.

IMG_9401The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.  I picked this title up at the local Goodwill Bookstore for $2.99.  If you don’t have one of those around, find one stat.  I never go in that place looking for anything.  I just go and browse and I am usually pleasantly surprised by what I find!  People get rid of all sorts of books and I am left scratching my head at it most times.  This book is no exception being that it was in perfect, like-new condition.  It’s spine had never been cracked.

I enjoyed this book very much.  It was a fascinating peek inside an autistic teenager’s mind.  Christopher found his neighbor’s dog dead and that led to the discovery of his mom being alive and an odd adventure to London to find her.  There were a few times that I got bogged down in details and had to skip a few paragraphs, but I think it’s a true representation of an autistic person’s thought processes.  I’ve recommended it to a friend who read it and said the same thing.  Worth the read.

April was uneventful.  I had been reading so many a month up until now!  Spring gets pretty busy for us, but don’t worry, May made up for what April lacked!  Thanks for stopping in and catching up.  I mentioned the Goodwill Bookstore in this post.  I would love to hear where you find cheap books in your town!

 

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March 2017 Reads

Here it is, October in real life, and I’m talking about March.  Geez.  I’ll catch up at some point!  I’ve got several books that I have read early release copies of, and those reviews are coming soon!  Also, I’m going to catch up on all my monthly reading, and there have been several instances of COMMUNITY that I need to share!  So, here’s March’s reading list and reviews.

IMG_8613I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi.  I picked this one up as a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon for cheap.  I listed it on my reading challenge checklist as “a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read”, but I wasn’t dying to read it, and I don’t mind admitting that I wanted to read it.  That category is difficult for me because there’s no shame in my reading game.  Anyway, Luvvie has a lot to say on many different topics.  I enjoyed her humor and a lot of her views and ideas.  Several of the chapters felt like Bad Feminist (read my review of it here), but the rest were worth the read.  I’ve listened to her speak on a podcast since reading this, and if you’re in to podcasts, or just want to hear more from this author, they are worth the listen.  She was on Just the Right Book!  with Roxann Coady and For The Love! with Jen Hatmaker.

Running for Women: Ditch the Excuses and Start Loving Your Run by Danica Newon.  IIMG_8617 think I thought I was going to pick up running this year.  I borrowed this book for FREE on the Kindle’s Lending Library that comes with a prime membership.  This book was very informative about running both long and short distances.  It addressed speed and how to build it, diet, and marathon running.  There was a lot I didn’t know about long distance running, so it was a good source of information on that.  It was also motivational in the way of having goals and journaling those to track progress–which is totally me, I love to journal.

 

IMG_9397Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley.  I grabbed this one as a Kindle Daily Deal as well.  I check that every day and get great deals on books that I’ve had my eye on but don’t want to pay high prices for.  This one has been talked about in many reading circles for awhile.  It has recently come up again in a reading Facebook group that I am in.  This is a short read at just 126 pages!  It’s about a 39 year old woman who lives with her brother and stays home while he goes and does all the things.  When she’s given the opportunity to buy a traveling book store, she goes for it.  The adventures that ensue lead to danger and love.  This one is set in 1917.  I really enjoyed this one.

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders.  I’m surprised that I’m just now IMG_8623writing about this one because I feel like I’ve talked about it all year long.  Easily one of my favorite reads this year, and I wasn’t a bit surprised to see Saunders win the Man Booker Prize for this one just recently!  I loved this book so much, I also bought the audio book because I’ve heard rave reviews of it’s theatrical style and I want to hear all the different actors that portray different characters.  I lent this book to several friends, and I was surprised that they didn’t necessarily hold my same sentiments on it, so it’s one of those polarizing books that people either love or hate.  That’s fine, I fall into the “love” category for sure.  I bought a signed copy of this at Square Books in Oxford after a date night with the hubs, and I’m so glad to have it on my shelf.  It is written unlike any other book I’ve ever read.  It took me a minute to get used to the format, and I highly recommend at least looking at a few pages before listening to the audio book so that you can see what they are saying.  President Lincoln’s son, Willy, has died of typhoid and the ghosts in the cemetery are talking to him, encouraging him to go on to his afterlife, when the president himself shows up and picks up the boy’s body and holds it.  His grief is felt by everyone.  Later you realize that none of them have any idea that they’re dead, and Willie helps most of them transition into the afterlife when he goes. It was all so interesting.  This would make a GREAT book club read since there are so many, many ideas to talk about: the grief of a parent, the way the characters are disfigured after death (and why), redemption, there’s a scene about heaven/hell, how Lincoln’s grief affected the civil war.  I could go on and on.  It has stuck with me for the rest of the year.  I have also listened to several podcasts about this one!  It was recommended on What Should I Read Next and then discussed pretty thoroughly on Slate’s Audio Book Club.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.  Also counts as “a book nominated for an award in 2017.”

IMG_9398The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.  This is another book with a good bit of buzz that I snatched for $1.99 as a Kindle Daily Deal.  A girl from Sweden has a long time friendship with a woman in Broken Wheel, Iowa through their shared love of books.  Sara goes to visit Iowa for two months, but when she arrives, she finds that her friend has just passed away.  Through a series of events, she takes all of the friend’s books and opens a store that transforms the whole town and brings the people together.  Of course there is some love involved, and all the quirky townspeople were so enjoyable.  It is translated from Swedish, so it could definitely count as “a book in translation” on the reading challenge.  This could also maybe be “a book about books or reading” since you will definitely add to your TBR some of the titles talked about.  I checked off “a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet” on mine.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett.  I checked this book out from my beloved local library afterIMG_9396 seeing it on every “must read” book list for 2017.  I was not prepared for the subject matter, but I’m so glad I read this.  This is the story of Nadia and Luke who have a sexual relationship while Nadia is still in high school.  When she gets pregnant, Luke’s parents (his dad is a pastor and his mom is “a Mother” in the church) pay for an abortion.  The book follows them through grief and how it affects all the lives involved-including a friend who knew nothing about it all-for years to come.  There is no tidy ending, but I liked it just the same.  Very timely.

 

I think this is a great place to stop and say that I am trying to mix up my list of authors this year.  I’ve done a fairly decent job of reading books written by more than just white women.  In the past, I’ve read a lot of “chick lit” which is mostly written by white women with white women characters.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those books a bit!  I’ve read loads of them!  I just see a need to branch out in my life.  In March, I mixed it up quite a bit looking back.  I would love to hear how you’re being intentional in your reading life.  Maybe it’s not changing up authors, but mixing up your genres.  I have gotten stuck in some ruts before myself.  Leave a comment and let me know what’s working for you this year!

If you’re counting, This puts me at 20 books for the year!  That’s more than 5 per month so far in 2017 (up to March).  This is the first time I’ve tracked my number of books read, and I’m really surprised at myself!

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