Bout of Books 23

I may be a readathon junkie at this point. I’m not even sure. I’ve done 8 in two, 25 in five, TBC did one not long ago. I’m here for them all. Every one of those mentioned can be found on Instagram.

Since I’m a glutton for punishment and also love the challenge and also love the intentional reading time, I’ve signed up for another one. Bout of Books 23. That’s the 23rd time they’ve done this readathon and the second time I’ve participated. Here’s a little background.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 20th and runs through Sunday, August 26th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 23 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I’ve got my TBR stack (mostly my kindle) charged and ready. What about you? Will you join us?

July 2018 Reading Wrap-Up

I will forever look back on July 2018 and think of the month that I went full on fangirl over a book series.  Y’all, I’m a grown woman and I can’t explain it.  I just fell right in, head over heels for a bunch of fictional characters, and I will not apologize.  Only because I know that I’m far from alone.  ***this post contains some mild spoilers that you would easily find on Instagram.

We started the month pretty lazily when we finished The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser on audio while on a quick road trip to a neighboring town that has three awesome indie bookstores.  I have wanted to visit Square Books, Jr. since we moved here, but when we are in Oxford, it’s always for date night and this store is closed.  We always make it to Square Books and Off Square Books, but never to Jr.  We visited all three on this day out and spent too much money, but that’s life with a bookworm family.

img_1539Anyway, The Vanderbeekers.  This was a great book to get my kids out of their own world and get them to see that not everyone lives like us.  The family in the book lives in Harlem in a brownstone with different families on every level.  We have a fairly small family, and there are five kids in the Vanderbeeker family.  The family is being evicted unfairly at the end of the year, and the kids work together with their whole neighborhood to try to change the landlord’s mind.  The very idea of a neighborhood coming together like that had my heart swirling with pride.  I have no idea if my kids got a single thing from that book, but I loved it and we can always listen to it again.

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley.  If you’ve followed me on social img_1572media or this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love Flavia de Luce.  She is a sparky, now 12 year old, chemistry loving super-sleuth that I can’t seem to get enough of.  In this latest installment, Flavia finds a dead body (of course!) in another town and goes about finding the killer outside her comfort zone.  I love that the circus was featured in the novel–I do love the circus.  I also love the role that Dogger has taken on in the absence of Flavia’s father.  I’ll have to wait until February 2019, I believe, for the next book.

img_1751The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.  I saw people in a Facebook reading group and then on Instagram talking about this one and rating it in flames instead of stars due to its raciness.  There, that’s your fair warning.  I don’t usually read pure smut, but the fact that this was from the view of a girl with autism peeked my interest.  I greatly enjoyed The Rosie Project and thought it may be along the same lines and all these women were over reacting with their blushing and discomfort reading it in front of their kids. *eye roll* Except they may not have been overreacting at all.  I don’t easily blush with my line of work, but I wouldn’t go around recommending this steamy read to just anyone and I almost didn’t admit to reading it in this post.  I’ve surprised myself here.  Anyway, Stella has Asperger’s and is very driven and focused at work.  The problem is that she is awkward outside of work and wants to be better at sex, so she hires an escort to give her lessons and anyone can see where that leads.  Apparently, this is going to be a series that I will decide later if I want to continue on with.  July held a lot of romance for me from here on out, and I might be done with it for awhile.

July 21-22 was the 24 in 48 readathon.  I was ambitious and participated, even though it was a work weekend for me.  I read for a total of 14 hours which was quite impressive.  I had a whole stack of books from the library (that all came in at the same time) that I was going to tackle.  However, I had one on my kindle that I needed to finish first and I had no idea the domino effect it would have when I put it down.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.  Y’all.  Believe the hype.  I started this bookimg_1637 several months back and put it down, just not feeling it at that time.  I decided to go all in and finish it quickly so I could get back to that stack, but once I started, there was no going back.  The first in this series if very “beauty and the beast” with Feyre captured and held in Tamlin’s estate while he deals with a 49 year old curse that’s threatening to destroy him and all the people in his court.  He sends her back to her home when he realizes that he loves her and doesn’t want her to get hurt.  She risks it all and comes back for him.  She is so tough and relentless.  She also meets more key players in the rest of the series–including Rhysand.  Don’t let this first book fool you, everyone you thought you loved will shift in the next books.  Dun dun dahhhhhhh.  I bought this book as a kindle daily deal maybe in December?  Just now getting around to it.  Ridiculous.

img_1647A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.  I went straight to amazon and picked up the second in the series for whatever price they asked because I knew I would want to own it and I was dying to read the next book!  Ebooks have spoiled me with their instant gratification!  Anyway, we pick up with Feyre back in the Spring Court planning her wedding to Tamlin when Rhysand swoops in and saves her from all that and I fall in love with his character immediately.  All the grimy thoughts I had about him in book one are gone for good.  Yours will be, too.  Feyre and Rhys are now officially my favorite fictional couple of all time.  The two of them have to save their world–of course.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.  I picked this one up months ago as a kindleimg_1689 deal as well.  I may have actually bought it first.  I let peer pressure guide me from time to time.  Feyre and Rhys pretty much fight for their lives for the entire book and after more than 700 pages of that, I was emotionally, mentally exhausted.  These two!  Heart eyes! I have to take a break before I read the last one.  I was delighted at how long these books were because I got to spend more time with the characters, but that takes a toll, and I need a minute before I revisit Prythian.  I am excited to see where Maas takes the series from here.  *Heads up!  This series is sexually graphic with a scene or two in each book.  I would not hand it to my 11 year old.  Ever.  I believe Amazon says 17 and up.

img_1748My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan.  I bought this one as a kindle daily deal recently.  I needed a good change of pace after the Court series, and this was definitely a change.  If sappy romance with a large dose of heartbreak is your jam, this one is for you.  It was not for me.  I can handle a little romance, but I need more to a story.  Ella goes to Oxford for a year as a Rhodes Scholar and meets a stunningly handsome man and accidentally falls in love with him.  Turns out, he’s sick.  Like, really sick.  And now she has to make a decision about her future back in America.  I never set myself up to cry while reading a book.  I didn’t see this coming because I never read a book’s synopsis.  This sometimes proves to be a bad idea.  I picked this one up on recommendation from online bookish peeps alone.  Anyway, it’s over now.  I shed a couple of tears, the couple may or may not live happily ever after.

July was sort of a whirlwind with that one series consuming my life for about a week.  I highly recommend it to adults who like some fantasy and YA.  I do not recommend it to young teenagers.  I also got a real kick out of the Instagram fandom that came with that series.  One search of the hashtag #acourtofthornsandroses and I was beside myself in laughter.  I was also not expecting people to be drawing elaborate scenes and characters from the books.  Nor was I expecting all these people to be dressing up as the characters.  Halloween may put me in their ranks though.  Hold your judgement.

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.

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, 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.

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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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