December and January Reads

I’m totally slacking in 2017.  I had all these New Year’s Resolutions, and then I guess January 2 happened and it all went out the window.  I don’t even know.  I’ll do another post regarding my New Year’s Resolutions (and my husband’s that, ironically enough, include me).  Anyway, on to the list.  It turned out way longer than I expected!

In December, I did not read nearly as much as I would’ve liked.  I’d like to chalk it up to the holidays, and maybe that did have something to do with it, but really, it was a lot of lazy.

This year, I’ve decided to do Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenges.  She has two this year, one for fun and one for growth.  I’m doing both, I think.  You can find them here.  I’ll note which books I choose for each category in the challenges.

img_8545Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs.  There, I’m done with the series.  I was so ready for this book to end.  Not because it wasn’t good.  I quite enjoyed it.  I get like that with a series.  After three or four books of the same characters, I’m over it.  Poor Twilight couldn’t even get a fair review on that last book.  I was done.  Anyway, I do recommend this series to anyone.  It was out of my norm, and it read really easily and fast.  In this last book, Jacob is torn between his two worlds.  In an effort to save all the ymbrynes, he learns a lot about himself and his peculiarity.  The crew goes into the depths of hell to help their friends and it ends beautifully.  I checked this one out from the library.  There was quite a wait on this that I didn’t expect.  That’s a heads up to anyone that gets their books from small libraries, sometimes long lines on popular titles.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.  This one is, by far, my favorite img_8547Harry Potter book.  Harry Potter discovers even more about his past, including a sacred new friend, and he learns a lot about himself as well.  There is so much strength in this one boy. This is probably one of my favorite Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, and that crazy teacher that thinks she can see into the future, good grief.  Loved it.

 

 

 

 

img_8539The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg.  Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is a very popular topic right now.  There are MULTIPLE books out there promoting the concept and how to make it work for you.  This one was $1.99 on Amazon for Kindle this month, so I picked it up to see what all the hype is about.  Turns out, I already hygge quite a bit.  Hygge is about creating a cozy or homey place for friends and family.  Home cooked meals around the table, homemade cookies and gifts, candles and fires and quilts.  Lots of welcoming into your space.  We already eat around our table every night as a family.  I’m trying to do more homemade gifts and food items for friends and neighbors.  The concept is about putting down your phone, turning off electronics and TV and just being with your people.  Not as easy at it sounds with our busy schedules but doable.  I enjoyed this short book.

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay.  The MMD book challenge calls for a book of any genreimg_8543 that addresses current events.  I picked this book up for Kindle for $1.99 in December with intentions of it being my read for a collection of essays, but with all the women’s marches going on around the country, I thought it would be good as a book that addressed that.  I hated this book.  Many of the essays I just quit in the middle or skipped all together.  I wasn’t expecting so many book and movie and music reviews.  I also wasn’t expecting so much bias.  The beginning essays were good.  I would love to know more about the author’s life growing up with immigrant parents and she survived at least one very traumatic event.  These things shaped her world, and I got a real taste of that in the first section, but when she started complaining about movies and the way black people are portrayed, I could really see that she clearly has some work to do on herself.  She admits that.  She used to (or still does) play Scrabble competitively.  Also, she’s a college professor.  This is fascinating to me.  This clearly expands the vocabulary, except there apparently is only one word for the way women are treated and that is misogyny, and only two words for abortion and that is reproductive freedom.  Shoot me.  I want equal pay for women as much as the next person, but I’m not taking to publishing my rants and views in order to get my point across.  I don’t think I’m a feminist at all if this book represents feminism’s many aspects.  If you want to read a book that addresses current events, choose a different one.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger.  The title of this book misleadimg_8544 me.I thought it was going to be about community and your people.  Not at all.  I need to start reading the synopses of these books on Kindle.  This has happened to me more than once now.  This was more about the way that Native Americans lived versus the white Europeans when they first came to America.  Then it ventured into how the military veterans are received and treated when they come home from war.  It was $1.99 on Amazon.  I was reading this for the community aspect and not any category of the reading challenge.

 

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.  I checked this audiobook out from theimg_8548local library just like I’ve done with the rest of the series.  This book is LONG.  My Ali is finishing it up right now, and I almost dread the end for her.  There are at least three long, drawn out monologues that I would’ve skipped right over if I had been reading the paper book.  I got so bored!  This could be a sign that I need a break from the series.  I don’t know.  Anyway, I liked it over all.  Ali is attracted to its 32 point AR worth.

 

 

 

img_8552Eleanor+Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I bought this book a long time ago for $1.99 on Kindle and started it but put it down because I wasn’t prepared for all the language at the beginning.  I’ve heard rave reviews, which is why I bought it in the first place, but I was disappointed in the first three chapters.  I was googling books with a reputation of being unputdownable for the reading challenge and this one came up.  Since I already owned it, I thought I’d give it another try.  It totally lived up to that rep.  I stayed up until 3:30 am one morning devouring it before I finally made myself put it down, then finished it quickly the next day.  So, so good.  There is a lot of language and a few scenes that left me mad for Eleanor.  Eleanor represents tons of kids I know and people I see at work, so the story hit pretty close to home.  I only cried a little, and that’s a huge feat for me (those who know me can attest to this).  This was my book with a reputation of being un-put-downable.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I listened to this one on Audible.  I’ve heard greatimage things about this book including a recommendation from one of my blog readers!  Thanks Elena!  It took me a little bit to get into this one.  I wasn’t Ove’s biggest fan at first, but this book has just about the sweetest, happiest ending I’ve ever read.  I loved the whole motley crew of characters by the end.  These people are my people.  And Ove reminds me so much of my grandfather that I couldn’t help but love him.  My grandfather always drove a Chevrolet and his tractors were always blue Fords and everyone should just obey all the rules and we will all get along just fine.  I want to read another of Backman’s books.  He’s got a great style of unfolding the story just slowly enough to keep all your interest.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I also listened to this one on Audible.  There is no picture of this one because it almost destroyed my relationship with my Kindle, and when I finally got rid of it, I couldn’t bring myself to pull it back up and get a picture. The Audible help folks didn’t come right out and say it, but I’m pretty sure that we were in agreement that the download was likely demon possessed.  I listened to it mostly while I was purging my house, ironically enough.  Kondo has some good ideas about what to get rid of and making sure everything has a place.  I’m not really into the idea of treating my stuff like living things, so I couldn’t take it totally seriously.  One thing I did take away, if you wear sweat pants all the time, you become a person that should be wearing sweat pants instead of a put together person.  This hit home for me.  I’m a yoga pants junky.  Also, she says not to sleep in over-sized shirts, but get yourself some real pajamas, so that’s on my list to do soon.  This qualified as “a book in translation” for the reading challenge.  A Man Called Ove qualified for that category as well.

 

 

November Reads

I could not be more excited that the election is over, fall finally decided to show up, and I can snuggle with a warm blanket, cup of warm cider and a good book.  This winter, I plan to read some epics, so my lists won’t be long, but I will definitely have put in the time!  I’d love to hear from you with your favorite cold weather reads!

img_8302Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin. This book was a birthday gift to myself at the recommendation of a dear friend with good taste in books. I started it on the beach on my birthday vacation.  I was out there in yoga pants and freezing, but the beach is always worth it, and when you’re there, you have to read.  This book is a paradigm shifter for Christians, or at least it should be.  This is a story of a family that was rocked in some pretty devastating ways, but on the other side of it all, they can see that what God had for them was so much better than the American Dream and their idea of heaven.  She admits that they came against a lot of criticism with the choices that resulted from job loss and selling their farm, and I’m sure there are still a lot of “prosperity gospel” naysayers out there for them, but this family has taken the gospel to the for real broken in their city.  They are literally being the hands and feet of Jesus, and I am left challenged in all the right ways.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.  This is the second book in the Miss Peregrine’s series.  Iimg_8395 read the first one about a year ago and enjoyed it.  I don’t know why it took my so long to pick up the second one.  I picked this one up at my local library, but owning the series wouldn’t be a bad idea.  It’s an adventure story with some time travel mixed in.  After seeing the movie, I was wondering if they took all three books and made it just one movie, and after reading this one, I’m going to say yes.  While most of this book was not in the movie, some of the characters at the end are similar and the circumstances as well.  It was enjoyable.  I’m waiting on the third book from the library now.

 

img_8397The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  I listened to this one on Audible.  It was a daily deal one day, and I’d like to up my “classics-I’ve-read” game, so I snatched it up for like $1.95 I think.  Anyway, Emma Thompson narrated this one, and she did a great job.  She made the characters really come alive.  I went into this one totally blind, so I didn’t realize that it was about ghost sightings, possibly a couple of possessions, maybe the governess was just crazy.  Lawd.  This book had me googling commentaries about it when it was over.  Did that really just end that way?!?!  I’ll admit that my mind sometimes wanders when I’m listening to books, so I probably missed some big details, but I got the most important parts.  This was a short listen at only 4 hours and some minutes.  Worth it.  I enjoyed it.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  This one was a kindle daily deal or img_8351something a while back.  I think I may have a little problem with hoarding cheap kindle books, but I will always have something to read.  Anyway, I have heard a few people rave about this one, so I really wanted to give it a try.  It was very reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (read my review of it here).  It is in letter form-mostly.  I have to admit that this was not my favorite new book.  I feel like there were parts of the book and characters that I cared deeply about that went totally ignored in the end.  Also, there were several hateable characters that really just pissed me off (like they were supposed to, I’m sure).  The couple in the book lacked communication in their marriage, and I feel like the whole thing could’ve been avoided if people weren’t so passive-aggressive and would just TALK.  Clearly, I may feel strongly about some things here.  Anyway, it was a very easy read and somewhat funny, but I can’t recommend it the same way that I’ve heard others doing so.  I have not written off the author, though.

img_8396Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.  I listened to this one on audio as well.  I checked it out from my local library.  I have heard that the Harry Potter series just gets better book by book and I will totally agree that this one lived up to the “Harry Potter hype.”  Harry Potter finds out a little more about his mysterious past, there’s a sketchy professor, and lots of fun magic.  Ali read this one and has now moved right on to the third, leaving me in her dust.  She melts into giggles every time she is about to spoil the book for me. It’s also interesting to listen to little bits together and she tells me the voices that the characters make in her head.  Our own little reading club has been so much fun.  I’m so glad to find books that we both enjoy.

For Christmas, I asked Ali what sort of books she would like to receive as gifts.  Bless, she answered that she wants books like Robin Hood or maybe something where the people can talk to animals but they’re the only ones.  So, fantasy?  She just didn’t know how to claim the genre.  I’d love to hear some good recommendations for her.  While I want her to move on from fairies and princesses, I’ve found some interesting looking series that may be right up her alley including the Tuesdays at the Castle series by Jessica Day George.

I’ve got Christmas nailed down, but I recently read a blog post (that I cannot find!) about a book store in Indiana that has a book of the month club for kids.  When I was a kid, my mom signed me up for something similar (maybe quarterly?) through Scholastic.  It was my life’s joy at the time to get that package with books, stickers, posters, games.  I have been looking for something similar for my kids for about 2 years, but I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for.  I can find monthly crafts, STEM, you name it, but no books.  This one that I found is expensive to me, just for one book a month, but the blog post recommends doing your own BOTM club, so that’s what I’ve decided to do–for both of my kids.  I’ve ordered a bunch of random single books lately that I was going to give for Christmas, but I’ve decided to hold off and just give a box set this year and then mark my calendar for them to get a fresh new book on a certain date every month.  I went ahead a grabbed a couple of fun crafts at Hobby Lobby to throw in with it, so I think it will be fun and more what I’m looking for.  Also, this will be way cheaper because I can get 2 books and a couple of crafts every month for the cost of that book club.

Y’all.  I cannot say enough about my emerging reader.  Spencer is almost halfway through kindergarten, and he has blossomed.  He went into this school year highly disappointed that he couldn’t already read.  He thought he would be the only one, I think.  On the first day of school, he came home and informed me that none of those kids in his class could read!  Bless his heart.  He is so competitive.  It is ON now.  He WILL know how to read.  He wants to be good at it, so that makes him great at it right now.  He can sound out words with up to 5 letters.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, and maybe you’ve got an over achiever at your place, but this is a really big deal for him considering we were iffy between m’s and n’s just a few months ago.  He is loving these new skills.  I can’t wait to start writing about what he’s been reading, too!

 

 

7 Books We Read in October

October was a tough one.  I just COULD NOT get it together and read!  The pickings were slim last month, and I apologize.  Better luck next month, I guess.

img_8281The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.  This book took me all month to read.  I can’t even explain it.  It was enjoyable.  I quite liked it, but I just COULD NOT find the time to just sit down and read it in a big chunk.  I feel like a lot of the story was lost on me that way.  By the time I got around to the end when the mystery was all coming together, I had forgotten some of the characters.  Ridiculous.  This is the first book in the Flavia de Luce series.  I’ve heard so much about it that I have been intrigued for quite some time.  My library has the series.  An 11-year-old chemist detective makes quite the main character.  Honestly, I thought the chemistry would play a bigger role, but it may have and I forgot.  Good grief.  Anyway, I will be reading the next one for sure.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart.  I listened to this one because it seemed so interesting.  It’s the historical fiction story of Constance Kopp, America’s first female img_8286deputy sheriff.  This book starts out with Constance and her sisters riding along in their carriage when they are hit in the side by an automobile driven by a local factory owner and mafia man.  All the sisters want is money to repair their carriage, but what they get is a whole lot of trouble and many more life lessons in self defense and investigating.  This book would be a quick read.  I’ve heard that a narrator can make or break an audio book, and I totally believe it.  I wasn’t a huge fan of this narrator, but it was still intriguing and a fun listen.  This one was the Audible Deal of the Day at some point and I grabbed it for cheap while I could.  It is the first in a series, so I will most likely be visiting the next book soon.

 

img_8283The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.  I listened to this one also.  This is about Arthur Pepper whose wife died a year ago and he has decided to start going through her belongings.  He finds a charm bracelet in a boot and wants to know more about the different charms.  This investigation leads him on a wild and unexpected ride, but he finds out more about himself than his wife.  I loved this.  I listened to it in the car, cleaning my kids’ rooms, doing laundry, anytime just to get through it.  It was so interesting and I would’ve binge read it had it been in print in front of me.

 

 

Home is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson.   I read another of Sophie’s books last month, and in true form, this one did not disappoint as a fun, fast read.  Sophie is funny

img_8284and easy to relate to.  I identify with this book more than the last one because this one talks about moving all over from state to state and finding new people wherever you go and hanging on to the dear ones from the home before.  Everywhere we’ve moved, I’ve found dear sweet friends, and when we move, although I may not talk to them as often, I’ve hung tightly to some of those treasured friendships.  This book also had some tear-jerking moments, so heads up.

 

 

 

img_8285Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs.  I picked this one up for $1.99 on Kindle this month.  I’ve been wanting to read it for ages–ever since I borrowed a friend’s copy of Looking for Lovely.  I love Annie’s life story.  I feel like she can write this book from experience and urge others to take that leap of faith with confidence.  I am slowly going through it with our college small group right now since I see many of them on the cusp of large decisions and uncertainty if they’re strong enough to do the things they really are passionate about.  Great read.

 

 

Ali’s Reads

img_8282Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.  Congratulations to Ali for making it into the Harry Potter Book Club!  This is a life long dream of hers, and she is elated.  She loved this book with all the fantasy and adventure.  She stayed up many a late night to get this read.  So happy for her.  And proud to see her reach a goal.  I listened to this on audio from my local library while she was reading it, but she beat me to the end.  Confession: I’ve never read this series.  I know, I know, but when it was released, I was in high school and clearly past the age of acceptance on reading something like that.  It was a fun listen, and I will go on to book 2, but I honestly don’t see what all that hubbub is about yet.  Maybe book 2 will make me fall head over.

Marvin Redpost: Kidnapped at Birth by Louis Sachar.  I picked this book up at the Goodwillimg_8287 Bookstore and she read it at school and took an Accelerated Reader test on it that day.  I’d say it was a little below her reading level, but any book is a good book at this age.  She recommends it to first and second graders she says.  That Louis Sachar writes some good ones.  This is the first in the series, turns out.

 

8 books we read in September

This is coming a little bit late into October, but I wanted to include my daughter this month. She is an avid reader and has been enjoying some neat books lately that I think should be shared.  I’ll do my reads first.

So, Audible has probably changed my life.  This is the second month I’ve been listening to books, and I cannot get enough.  I listen in my car on my work commute.  I also listen while I’m cleaning, folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, cooking, on and on.  I’ve really enjoyed this membership based service.

The first book of the month was The Boys on the Boat by Daniel James Brown.  I listened to imagethis on Audible, and that really brought this book to life.  I’ve recommended it about 12345 times since I finished it.  This is the story of the 1936 Men’s Olympic Rowing team from Washington.  It’s about the team as a whole, but it also picks up a few individual members are really focuses on their upbringing and what made them so good at rowing.  It’s not surprising to me that the thing that made them most successful had nothing to do with fame or fortune and everything to do with hard work and determination.  I recommend this book to boys of junior high age and up and any adult that loves an underdog, feel good story.  There is a middle school version as well.  It’s an incredible read.

imageI listened to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte next.  I need to read some classics.  I don’t even know why I feel that way other than I sometimes feel like I’m the only one that didn’t read a certain book for whatever class in school.  I could’ve knocked this book out in 2 hours if I could have flipped past all the filler words and descriptions.  A friend described Bronte as being “paid by the word.”  I couldn’t speed  up the audio version because of the British accent, I couldn’t follow it if I sped it up.  The story itself is beautiful, and I loved the way the ending made me feel, but I won’t be reading this again.  I probably won’t recommend it as a leisure read either.  Just my personal opinion.  I’m sure that this is full on blasphemy to some out there.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  I strongly disliked this book.  I know I’m not in good imagecompany here.  I’ve thought and thought about why I disliked it so strongly, and I’ve come to the realization that I want marriages to last.  I want marriages to be fought for and to win.  This book is about Alice, who lost 10 years of her memory when she had an accident at the gym.  She wakes up with a boyfriend and a divorce she doesn’t want, kids she doesn’t know, family happenings she doesn’t remember.  She wants her marriage to work (because she’s living 10 years ago), but when it all comes back to her, everything she has just been living is totally gone and she’s suddenly the bitter woman that she’s become again.  The last few chapters were simply a recap of everything that had already happened in the book, so I flipped right through those.  I bought this book at the Goodwill Bookstore for $2.99 and wasted that for sure.  I donated it to the library.  Maybe someone else will enjoy it.  I’ve heard so many good things about this author that I may give her another chance, but I need some time to get over this one.

imageThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  I checked this one out from my local library.  This book was a cute, fun read.  I loved that it was in letter form, so it left a lot to the imagination and characters loosely told about events that had already happened.  After Lilac Girls and several other WWII books, I was ready for a break, but then The Boys on the Boat ended up being about the very start of the war and this one ended up being about the aftermath of the war.  This is a sweet look at how books can connect people in ways they didn’t think possible, and it makes me want to put my address in a book to see if I can get a pen pal.

 

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson.  If you don’t follow the Boo Mama Blog, imagestop here and go check that out.  Sophie is a hilarious Mississippi-turned-Alabama girl.  This book is sort of a memoir about her family.  None of this is going to change your life, but it was a good refreshing read that I’ve been putting off for a little bit.  I’m so glad I went on and read this.  If you’re needing a little funny pick me up, this one’s for you.  I read this on Kindle and grabbed it and another of hers for a great low price when a special was running.  She announced that on Facebook.  Once again, can’t get enough of Boo Mama.

 

 

 

imageWe are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Burg.  I chose to read this book because it is set in Tupelo, MS, and I love a good hometown story.  I checked it out from my local library.  Much to my disappointment, the only thing Tupelo about this book is that the author says it is set there.  There was no street name recognition or anything like that.  It is set in the 1950s, and it does address several important social issues like a handicap mother who is very close with her African American care taker.  The daughter and main character has been raised without seeing race and now it’s coming to light in her life, so it’s interesting to see the dynamic, but this book is not an important book to read regarding race.

 

Now for Ali’s reads.  It is such a privilege to watch my daughter grow into her own as a reader.  I have had somewhat of a hard time getting her out of that “princesses and fairies” mindset.  I’ve had to have long talks about how we can’t quit on a book (especially one I’ve asked her to read) because some books are important to read even though they are sad.  The beautiful thing is that she has found some true treasures when she sticks with it.  I’ve also watched that sparkle in her eye when she gets to a point in a book where she just can’t stop now.  The first time I saw that, I was so happy for her.  That was during Seraphina and the Black Cloak.  That’s one that she’s declared that she will read again.

Holes by Louis Sachar.  She says this book is about friendship.  That’s an important topic imageto a 9 year old for sure.  This was one that she couldn’t put down.  I picked it up and Barnes & Noble for her a while back because I want her to be familiar with a lot of the children’s classics, and this is one for sure.  It’s been made into a movie.  I should mention that I have a 5 year old son, so I try to buy gender neutral books when I can.  Also, I should mention that Ali has an aversion to used books.  She doesn’t like how some of them have stains and spill marks on the pages, so I’m going to have to continue to work with her on that.  Anyway, she loved this book and highly recommends it to the masses in middle school.

 

imageA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.  She quit this book with 2 chapters left because it “is sad.”  I made her finish it.  She said that it was a somewhat happy ending, but she was already devastated over all the loss up until that point.  In my opinion, books are one way that we can visit all over the world without getting on a plane, and I want my kids to have a worldview that is not limited to our little corner of the planet.  I want her to be intrigued by other cultures and parts of the world.  While this book may not have made her want to go to Africa, the next one may call her to Asia.

 

 

I think it was a fairly productive reading month.  I’d love to hear some of your recommendations!

 

 

August Book Review

You would think that now that both of my children are in school, I would be reading like a mama with all the time, but that’s not how it’s been at all.  Confession: the first day my

baby went to kindergarten, I hugged the toilet all day from anxiety and nerves.  That isn’t even like me!  Between my work schedule and the day he came home from school sick, I’ve really had very little quiet time at home when I’m not asleep.  Boo!!  Also, there was the Olympics!  I watched every second of the Olympics that I could.  I refuse to comment on the bickering between our local NBC channel and DirecTV that led to DAYS of missed opportunity to view all the medals being won.  I’ll be bitter over that for a while.  Anyway, August was a slow month for me reading wise.

Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren.  Y’all, this book made me want to stand up and slow clap for this family.  I love a good memoir, and this one is way up there on my imagenew favorite list.  I hear tell that you should read her first one called Some Girls first, but I don’t have any rules or boundaries when it comes to book order.  I assume that the book is going to catch me up enough to understand.  This generally holds true.  Some of y’all are cringing. Sorry, not sorry.  This is Jillian’s and her husband Scott’s story of infertility and adoption.  She lives a life so different from mine.  I’m intrigued by all the hippity dippity fertility methods she tried.  Truth is, her life isn’t so different when it comes to struggles.  I am so grateful she wrote this honest book.  What a woman!  This one was on sale for $1.99 on Kindle not long ago.

 

About mid-month, I had heard so much about Audible that I finally just went for it.  If you’ve never tried this membership based service and you listen to audio books, you should at least look into it.  I have a 40 minute commute to work, so it makes sense for me to use that time wisely.  I listen to lots of podcasts, but audio books are a great alternative for me.  With your first free 30 days, you get 2 free audio books.  After that it’s just one a month and then a 40% discount on any others that you buy.  There are several levels of membership, so look into it and see what works for you.  My favorite thing about listening to books is that they are read by actors, so they nail the accents and emotions.  When I read a British book (which I LOVE), I read in an accent in my head, so I truly appreciate that someone else is doing that for me!  I’m still in my 30 day trial period, so I’ll report back how I still feel about this service next month.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is the first book I listened to on audio.  The narrators are amazing on this one.  It’s from three different points of view, so there are three different readers which I really appreciated.  It’s a WWII book with different perspectives all over the world that all come together in the end.  One woman is a French ambassador type inimage New York, one is a Polish woman who ends up in a concentration camp, and the last is a German doctor who is passionate about Hitler’s Germany.  This was probably the most graphic WWII historical fiction I’ve ever read.  Most of them are from the point of view of Jews in hiding, but that is far from what’s going on here.  The author researched this book so well.  I was really impressed that everything I stopped to google was all there.  I learned a lot and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys WWII historical fiction.  It was hard at times, but well worth it in the end.

 

 

 

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  This one was recommended over and over by Jamie Ivey over on her podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.  I stumbled across it at the Goodwill Bookstore and then had my friend go back and get it the next weekend

imageduring their 40% off sale.  Cheapy.  The girl in this book is jacked up.  No better way to put that.  Life has been hard and she has very few coping skills.  I was frustrated with her at times.  This is a beautiful story about grace in the end.  I feel like that’s exactly how God feels about His children.  Great read.

 

 

 

 

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup.  She runs the website Living Well, Spending Less.  This was aimage short nonfiction read about decluttering your home, mind and soul.  I really don’t consider my mind and soul to be cluttered terribly because I have zero problem saying no to things, but my house is the struggle.  It’s embarrassing at times.  She gives a few strategies for cleaning out stuff, but her main thing is to get to the root of the issue–why do we have so much stuff.  Good, quick read.  Worth it if you’re like me and need to get some closets cleaned out and not fill them back up.  This book was also on sale for $1.99 on Kindle this month.

 

 

I also need to rave about a new podcast I discovered this month called What Should I Read Next by Ann Bogel.  She is over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, and I have literally fallen down the rabbit hole that is her site and her podcasts.  It is a book lover’s dream.  Head over there using the link and check it all out if you haven’t already.

August was somewhat slow, but autumn is coming!  I hate pumpkin flavored everything, but I really dig apple and cinnamon, so I’m looking forward to curling up under a quilt with a warm cup of cider and a good book.  It’s going to be delightful!

 

July Book Review

imageBittersweet by Shauna Niequist.  I’ve been watching this one on Amazon for quite some time, never really wanting to spend the money on it because I have so many others that I want to read first, so when it showed up at $2.99 in July, I grabbed it and immediately devoured it!  I love her writing style, and this book did not disappoint.  This book is all about bitter moments in her life that really brought out the sweet times.  She discusses job loss, miscarriage, relocation, and death.  I enjoyed this greatly.  This one counts as my “book with a one word title.”

 

 

The Contemplative Writer by Ed Cyzewski.  I want to read more about writing, and this one imageshowed up for $1.99 on Kindle, so I grabbed it up.  The subtitle caught me because it promises to combine writing and prayer.  This was a very short read.  I like that.  It actually had very little to do with actual writing and more to do with prayer rituals and habits that would give you peace and in turn open your mind for writing.  I don’t really know how that applies to me exactly, but I am intrigued by the Hours praying schedule and several other things that are touched on here.  Clearly, this is a little peep into some other books by this same author, but he also mentions a few other books I’ll be adding to my “to read” list.  I would recommend this one for anyone who wants to advance their prayer life, I cannot recommend it as a book about writing.

 

 

imageEight Twenty Eight by Ian and Larissa Murphy.  This one was free on Kindle awhile back and I used the Kindle app on my phone to start it.  That was slow going, so I finally finished it.  I first saw Larissa’s story at the IF:Gathering this year.  She told about the challenges of being married to someone with severe disabilities.  This book is the story leading up to their marriage.  It gives little glimpses into their now married life from time to time, but on the whole, it’s the lead up.  I have very torn feelings over their whole story.  She could’ve walked away at any point and not the first person would’ve blamed her.  They were just dating when he had his car accident that left him with a brain injury.  She hung in there.  This book had the longest chapters in the world, so it felt like a slow go, but if you’re looking for a story of inspiration, this one could be for you.

 

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews.  I love MKA.  I have read all of her books and I imagecouldn’t miss this year’s newest novel.  Her books are fun, sweet romances with a little plot twist usually.  This one did not disappoint.  A great beach read if the beach is still in your plans this year.  This marks off “a book from the library.”

 

 

 

 

 

imageOne Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus.  This book was on many books-you-must-read lists.  It was popping up in all the places that I look for books that may interest me, so when I found it at the Goodwill Bookstore awhile back for $2.99, I grabbed it and put it in my to-read stack.  A friend and I read it together except she’s clearly superhuman when it comes to reading speed and I finished it long after her.  No, that’s not my competitive spirit showing through at all.  It doesn’t mark off any books on my list, but it could mark one off on yours.  I didn’t absolutely love this book, but it was a fun read and I definitely got behind the characters in their cause.  It left me with a lot of “what if” thinking.  I like that.

 

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.  I don’t generally read a whole lot of historical fiction, but imagethis one has me hooked.  I read it early in the month, and it was LONG, but I soaked in every word.  I think I like American history.  It’s good to know these things about ourselves I guess.  This book was $1.99 when it first came out on Kindle, but I would pay the full price for it.  I loved it.  At the end, the authors explain where they got their research and what themes they continued that were probably fiction, but I didn’t even read all that because I didn’t care.  I loved the book so much, I want it all to be true.  Everything I googled matched up.  Lots of shockers.  This marks off my “book based on a true story.”

 

 

It was a good month for reading around here.  I don’t usually get to finish that many in a month, so I feel accomplished.  Thanks for stopping by!

June Book Review

June was a semi slow month reading wise.  Our family traveled for weeks at a time, which seems like prime reading time except I just never can carve out that time.  I could read in the car, but that’s when Hubs and I talk the most, so I don’t want to trade that in for a book.  So, here goes.

imageFirst, I quickly knocked out Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I snatched it up for $1.99 one day on Kindle.  Win!!  This book moved me deeply.  I loved every minute of it.  I’ve recommended it to all my friends.  Alice is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  This book looks at how she reacts and how her family deals.  It is a beautiful look at a disease that we actually know very little about.  As much as I loved it, it did make me slightly paranoid of my forgetfulness.  Ridiculous, I know.  This is my “New York Times Bestseller” even if it is from 2007.

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Next, I read Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  This book is on all the reading lists and has been dubbed a “modern day classic.” I picked it up from my local library. I was eager to read it and judge when I would force my kids to read it.  I’d say the end of fourth grade/fifth grade is acceptable for MY child.  Judge for yourself on your own kids.  It’s about August, a boy with facial deformities due to birth defects and multiple surgeries, as he navigates the fifth grade which also happens to be his first year in school (as opposed to homeschool).  I loved how the reactions of the kids at school is well represented and August’s feelings toward that.  Love wins in this book.  I love it.  This is my “book set on a school campus” on my reading list.

imageLean on Me by Ann Marie Miller .  I am stuck on community right now.  I want to drink it in both personally and with what I read, so this book’s title caught me straight off.  At $1.99 on Kindle, I couldn’t resist.  Except the title was the most deceiving thing!  This book is the story of the author’s divorce and recovery.  While her friends are mentioned as a support group, she simply narrates her moves from one side of the US to the other in her quest for recovery and healing.  I was so disappointed.  If you’ve been through a divorce or are going through a divorce, this book may or may not be a good one.  I don’t know.  I’m not recommending it ever.  I did finish it because I have a thing about that.

 

imageLastly, I read The Tumor by John Grisham.  It was all the way free on Kindle.  I read it in about 20 minutes, but I’m still counting it.  He says it’s his most important book.  It addresses cancer and a new form of treatment that’s out there.  It’s bringing light on this new treatment, and I believe it could be very important for the future.  It got really technical at times, so if you don’t have a medical background, some of it can get boggy.

Scant list, I know.  I’ve started some new ones, so hopefully July will look different.  I made my daughter read The BFG by Roald Dahl before we see that in theaters.  That book stuck with me as one of my very favorites back when I read it (what? 5th, 6th grade?), so I’m making my Ali read it in order to see the movie.  She’s in love.  I’ve got several others from my childhood that I remember as turning points in my reading career.  The Boxcar Children series was one.  I read a little bit of The Babysitter’s Club.  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry sticks out.  The Giver by  changed my life.  I read it again about 2 years ago and still love it.  The movie could not match up of course.  What about you?  When you think back to your childhood, what book hooked you on reading?

Thanks for stopping by!

Today a Dam Broke

I am overwhelmed lately.  I don’t even know how to get this out right now.  So ridiculous.  My husband (bless him) calls me “passionate,” and I do love him for that.  I love the fact that he’s chosen that single word instead of “emotional” or whatever else could come with a negative connotation.  Insert your worst word there because “emotional” would probably be mine.  Today a dam broke inside me.

I am devastated and heartbroken over this mass killing in Orlando.  I’m sad for every single person involved and I’m sad for the LGBT community as a whole.  I’ve read blog posts with people describing Pulse as the place where their people were.  That strikes right to my core.  Every single one of us longs for that place.  The place where we can be ourselves without worrying how we will be received.  For some of us, that’s church.  I pray that’s what you feel at church, but can I be totally honest?  That’s not how I feel at church.  For some of us, that’s work.  I’m so happy for you if that’s you.  It’s hard to find a job that you love going to day in and day out.  My work friends have become my people, but that’s where it ends usually.  I don’t see them when we aren’t at work. My place is the table.  For these people, that nightclub was that place.  Now that safe place isn’t safe and I doubt it will ever exist for them in the same way.  It may never reopen.  What now?

My next reason for devastation is that I’m passing out my truly heartfelt sympathy to an unfamiliar people group and I feel like I’m coming up short.  That’s because I am.  As a Christian and member of a church, I have failed the LGBT population by not loving them well.  I read a post by Jen Hatmaker (she’s my spirit animal clearly) on Facebook that talks about our honoring these people in their death means nothing if we didn’t honor them in their life.  That’s so true.  That is usually my go-to feeling when something happens and suddenly people are coming out of the woodwork to be “helpful.”  Bye!  If you aren’t around in my every day, I don’t want you around during my time of need.  I see exactly where they’re coming from.

So now what?  I live in Tiny Town, USA.  I don’t know any LGBT family members very well (my family spans the country and there are a lot of odd age gaps).  I don’t come into contact with a whole bunch of LGBT people on a day to day basis, but I want to love this people group well.  What can I do?  If you’ve seen a “10 ways to love the LGBT population” blog post, link it here.  I want to hear from real people who love other real people well.  My Bible never once says that I have to agree with everyone around me, but it does call me to love every person alike.  It calls me to love with abandon–wholly and without limitation.  Love is a verb.  It calls to action.

I have these same sentiments toward the black and Hispanic communities in my area.  I’ve failed miserably in loving them too.  What’s my first step?  There’s tons more on this to come as I wade through this very awkward and unfamiliar territory.  There are some great people who have more of a platform than I do that are leading the way.  I plan to look to them and get some wheels turning.  This is not a topic that I’m willing to sit back and watch pass by.  If you’re joining me on this, please feel free to contact me and let’s do it together. Let’s lock arms and make change in ourselves so we can love others better.  And if you are LGBT, please hear my heart in this.  I’m sorry.  I suck at this.  Tell me how I can do better.

True Community

After reading SEVERAL books that stress the importance of community, I have decided that I want to wade into an unknown world for myself and my family.  I want to have people around our table, A LOT.

Bread & Wine by Shauna Neiquist was probably the book that put that idea into true motion for me.  It’s her thing, people around her table.  I am a little jealous of that.  Then I listened to her on Jamie Ivey’s The Happy Hour and realized that she means, like, every night.  I’m sorry, what?!?!  Every night?!?  A different group or family over for dinner all the time.  They’re sharing stories and growing and sharing life.

Every night does not work for our family at all because I work three nights a week.  Because of this, we value our quiet family time.  I’m an introvert, I need some quiet to refuel.  However, last week, we had families in our home twice, three times if you count Spencer’s friend that ate dinner on his birthday (my baby’s 5!).  I loved every minute of it!  The first family was one for which our college small group had done a fundraiser.  They came and sat and we heard their stories.  I loved every minute of that only regretting that we didn’t eat together.  Food brings people closer.  There’s something about a table.  Friday night, we hosted a local family that is much like us in that they aren’t from this tiny town.  Making friends here is hard and you are often only close to the people that you work with everyday.  They’ve lived all over, and it was good to get to know them and all their life experiences.  We have a lot of the same views, and turns out, she’s a big reader, so we were basically born to be friends.

So now, I’m looking at this calendar and I need baseball and softball season to hurry up and end so that more days in my week can open up for more people to come over.  This week, we are hosting our church small group.  I’m stoked.  I’ll be talking about this more and more as it progresses.  I hope that I can encourage someone somewhere out there to open up to a community of people.  Let them in, let them love you, love them back.  It really does feel good.  Especially if you’re anything like me and social media has given you a false sense of community for a long time.  Moving to new places is hard.  It takes time to settle in.  You have to find your people and that’s no small task.  A little hint, they won’t come to you most of the time.  You have to go find them.  That sucks, and I’m sorry if I’m the one not coming to you.  I’ve been there.  But this is your encouragement post.  Get out there and be the one to make the first move.  Welcome some new folks into your home.  I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

Other books that speak to community:

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker–another life changer, HIGHLY recommend this!

Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson–haven’t actually read this yet, but dying to do so.

Women are Scary by Melanie Dale–again, haven’t read it, but it’s ON THE LIST

Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs– the last few chapters

The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak–a friend has read this and recommended it

I want to hear more.  I want to hear your stories and experiences.  It’s my new and old favorite thing.  I want to know how you did it when you moved somewhere new.  I want to know how you welcome the newbies.  I want to know what works and what fails.  And mostly, I want to know how this has affected you and how you do life.  I can’t wait to hear!

 

 

Books I’ve Read in May

This is a better way to do books, I think.  Since I read so many, it’s just better to cover them all in one post.

I should preface this by saying that I got a Kindle for my birthday.  This may well be the best thing that has ever happened to my reading.  I have gone full on competition with my reading speed.  You say 24 minutes to the end of the chapter?  I say I can do better than that!  You say I’ve read 86% of this book.  I will not sleep until it’s finished!  You say 10 minutes until the end of whatever?  I’ve got 10 minutes to knock that out.  Previously, I would look at how many pages were left in a chapter and then just put my bookmark there not realizing I could finish that in five minutes and then move on to laundry, dishes, life.

I did not, however, realize that ebooks can be just as expensive (if not more!) as print books.  Come on, Amazon!  You’re killing me!  If I’m going to spend $9.99 on a book, I want to be able to feel the pages.  So, I’ve found a couple of places to find and watch for cheaper ebooks.  Amazon shows daily and monthly specials, and I was told by a gracious friend about BookBub.  Where else?  Y’all help a cheap girl out here!  Comment here or on Instagram or Facebook with your favorite places to get ebooks for less than, say, $5.00 each.

So we all remember that I read The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson.  You can see that post here.  I enjoyed it greatly as did my friends.

imageAfter that review, a friend suggested Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.  My library had a copy that I picked up the very next day.  Knocked it out in no time and was able to mark off “murder mystery” from my reading checklist.  Thank goodness!  I was dreading a James Patterson.  Let me say that I have read TONS of James Patterson and have truly enjoyed many of them, but that’s not what I’m in to right now, I was glad to have a different murder mystery to get that checked off.  This book was big on character development and low on story development in my opinion.  I could pretty much tell what was going to be the outcome from early on, and the only true twist or turn was a personal matter for the characters.  Very predictable.  A fast read, though, and I like that.

imageYes, Please by Amy Poehler.  Got this one for $2.99 somehow.  This book didn’t change my life, but it was a good fast read.  It made me want to go back and watch Parks and Recreation since she devoted her longest chapter to that show.  That’s sort of disappointing to me as most of my memories of her were on SNL.  This marked off “memoir or biography” from the RC.

 

 

 

 

imageChasing God by Angie Smith.  This is my first Angie Smith book. I bought it for like $.99 on Kindle.  I think it would be a GREAT book for someone who is having trouble seeing themselves as God sees them.  That’s not a struggle that I have at this time, but she has some awesome things to say and has had some real life struggles that many of us can relate with well.  Her style of writing is a little different than what I’m used to reading, so this one moved very slow for me.  In all  honesty, that little % number at the bottom of my Kindle screen and my competitive spirit may have been the only thing keeping me going at times.  A friend revealed to me that she doesn’t think she’s ever finished an Angie Smith book, and I know why.  I would recommend it to anyone who feels like God is mad at them or that His love is conditional.  I checked off “a book that will help you grow” from the RC even though I don’t know how much I grew.

The last one that I finished was Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs.  This one has had a lotimage of hoopla regarding its release in the Christian book world.  It was a good, fast read.  I don’t think it really challenged or changed me, but I see how it could be a HUGE encouragement for someone going through some of the things that she faces.  She speaks to the importance of community and looking for beautiful things in everyday circumstances and places including sushi.  God shows up everywhere.  We’ve just got to be willing and take the time to see HIM.  I highly recommend this one.  I couldn’t mark anything off my list for this one.  Chalk it up as another “book of your choice.”

A coworker once made the comment, “You’ll read anything, won’t you, Emily.”  True story.  I will read ALMOST anything.  I’ve got a few lines drawn when it comes to some books (mainly 50 Shades of Grey, and I don’t need your judgement on that), but otherwise, I’m up for most anything.  I’d love to hear your suggestions.  I listen to Jamie Ivey’s podcast The Happy Hour (free on iTunes) on the regular, and she always asks her guests what they’re reading.  I love that, and I get lots of ideas from all of them.  I can’t figure out how to follow normal people on Good Reads, so if you’ve got pointers on that, I’m all ears.

Thanks for stopping by!