Sunday, May 21, 2017

May Reading List


Okay, here's my list of what I'm hoping to tackle in May.  I know the month is about 2/3 over, but I figured better late than never.

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott.  I think my love of Anne Lamott is well known by now.  This is another collection of essays by her.

The Bat by Jo Nesbo.  This is the first book in his Harry Hole series and I'm ready to dive into a new Scandinavian mystery.

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina.  This is an autobiography by the man who inspired Hotel Rwanda by hiding Tutsi's during the genocide in 1994.  It was originally on my list September of last year, but never even got cracked open.

Letters to Zell by Camille Griep.  This was in my Fall Sweet Progress Swap package and  is a reimagining of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.  I'm always down with a good fairy tale retold.

So what are you reading, or have you read this month?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

April Book Recap


So April was a good month of reading, but I didn't get much else done, including blogging.  I started a new job, and now my schedule is 7:00 to 3:30, Monday to Friday.  I enjoy getting done at 3:30, and had really good intentions to spend time once I got home blogging and keeping up with some of the other blogs I follow, but unfortunately, I haven't been able to establish much of a routine yet.  Instead, I get done with work, run some errands, then come home and read, eat supper, maybe go for a walk with my friend down the street and her dog, and next thing I know it's 8 o'clock and I'm falling asleep on the couch.  Still ironing out a routine that fosters blogging time.  But anyways, here's what I read and bought.

Read

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent was interesting.  It takes place in Iceland and is based on a true story.  The author did a great job of painting vivid scenes and really showing how a place looked, felt, and even smelled like, but I didn't love it as much as everyone else seemed to.  I thought it was a good story, but I wanted to know more about the family that Agnes stayed with, more about Agnes even, but she wasn't much of a talker and a lot of the story took place in her head with her remembering it and retelling it to herself.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey started out with such promise.  I was enjoying it right up until about the time they ended up on the RV.  Then it all started to go downhill.  I enjoyed the characters and cared about most of them, and this book is bleak, no doubt, so I wasn't expecting them to fire up the RV, ride off into the sunset, and find the answer to all humanities woes. I was expecting something like Cormac McCarthy's The Road- not a happy ending but not delusional.  This book ended in such a strange way.  All it made me think is that Melanie may be super smart and observant, but she's still a child or she would have realized that her plan was not only unfeasible to save the one she loved but also cruel.  I don't want to spoil anything, but ugh, that ending just annoyed me.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller was nonfiction and a good look at how Christians have a tendency to get all wrapped up in this or hat and forget that our main purpose is to love each other.  I liked most of the stories and it did make me think.  We all have first impressions of the people we meet, but are we willing to dig deeper and see really get to know people.  I know a lot of times, I don't engage with people because I think we'll never be deep friends so why bother, but there's plenty of reasons to get to know someone even if you think they're not going to be your new bff.  This may seem like a duh thing extroverts but I think introverts are going to know what I mean.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay was so disappointing.  I loved how the book started, taking place in Noirmoutier and even the little flashbacks were cute at first.  Plus there was some big family secret to unravel!  Oh my, I can't wait!  Well turns out I could have.  The secret is not that devastating.  The way they were carrying on you'd have thought their mother was some sort of puppy murderer or something.  Plus, the main character, Antoine, is this sad sack divorcee who's unsatisfied in his job and can't connect with his kids, and still wants to get back with his ex-wife who left him for another guy.  But all that changes when he meets the most remarkable undertaker.  Look up manic pixie dream girl, and you'll see this chick.  She has an unconventional job, she drives a Harley, she takes the reins sexually, his kids all love her, she never has a bad day apparently, and in turn she turns dumb Antoine's life around, and I couldn't have cared less.  I kept hoping this book would get better but it didn't. 

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson lived up to what I remembered.  He goes from giving history of the trail to telling actual tales from his trip.  It's a nice balance and makes you realize what an amazing thing the Appalachian Trail is.  I don't think I'd ever want to hike the whole thing, but it does make you respect those who do.  And Bryson is funny.  I laughed out loud with this book several times.

Acquired

The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty was picked up at my library's book sale.  I almost put it back because I'm really trying to limit the amount of books I'm hauling home, but after reading more about it on Goodreads, I am glad I picked it up.

Totals for 2017
Read- 14
Acquired- 12

Monday, April 10, 2017

April Reading List


April is here!  And here's what I'm aiming to read this month.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey was a gift from my Broke and Bookish Secret Santa last year.  I've been looking forward to this read and have been trying to keep away from spoilers, so I'm not sure what all I'm in for, but looking forward to the ride.
  • One True Ocean by Sarah Beth Martin was on my to be read list way back in October of 2015.  But, I never even cracked it open.  So, this is the month for redemption.  It's 
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is being turned into movie.  When I was at my aunt and uncle's cabin a few years ago, I found a copy there and started reading through it.  So, when I found a copy at a book sale, I snapped it up.
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller us described as a sort of Anne Lamott style book.  So, of course I had to give it a go.  It's been sitting on my shelf for months but decided it was time to dust it off.
What's on your reading list for April?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

March Book Recap


March was a surprisingly good month for reading.  I had gotten into a habit of coming home, plopping in front of the TV and watching reruns until my husband got home, so I broke that and switched from TV to books.  Of course, once you're immersed in a good story, it's hard to put a book down, so I ended up spending a lot of nights curled up with a book.  Here's the details.

I read
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky, which had been on my February reading list, but I never got to it.  It was a quick read, but much more intense than I was expecting.  I was expecting this cutsie little story about friendship and finding your place in life, and that is not what this is at all, it's much darker and more intense.  But it was good and I'm glad I finally read it.
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (originally from my November 2016 reading list) was also darker than I normally read.  I think this would be classified as horror, where I'm more a suspense type girl.  I really liked the premise of a time traveling serial killer, but there was a lot of questions left unanswered and some of the relationships and decisions of the characters just didn't seem reliable to me, and the gore was more than I care for in my books.  But it was interesting, that's for sure.
  • Still Mine by Amy Stuart didn't live up to my expectations.  I didn't really like any of the characters except for maybe the missing girl's mother, who has dementia.  The whole town sounded like a downer and being in healthcare, one my biggest annoyances was that this town of like a couple hundred people, two hours from anything in the middle of no where, isolated from everything because it's on some remote mountain road, has a hospital even though it seems like there's only one doctor and one nurse running the whole thing.  The grocery store consisted of a couple rows of stuff in the hardware store.  The town residents drive two hours to get food, but they manage to maintain a hospital?  Seriously, my town has about 4,000 people and we are pretty tiny to have a hospital.  It probably seems like no big deal to most readers, but the whole remoteness, yet randomness of this town really annoyed me.  And like I said, combine that with characters you don't care about- even the missing girl seemed unremarkable, and it makes for a fast but not really memorable read.  I did enjoy the parts of Claire's story that fleshed her out a little, but there wasn't enough to make me care about her that much.
  • Children of God by Mary Doria Russell was much better than I was expecting.  It's the sequel to The Sparrow, which was my favorite read of last year.  While the sequel wasn't as good (are they ever), I did enjoy reading more about Emilio Sandoz again, and watching him overcome the trauma he experienced in the first book.  The war in the middle got long, and I felt like a lot of it could have been cut or condensed, but I liked the back and forth point of views, where one chapter would be on Earth and the next would be on Rakhat.  I think this is one of those books that you either love or hate.  And you definitely need to read The Sparrow before this one, or you're going to be lost, or at least not as emotionally invested in a lot of the characters.
I added
  •  Lenten Lands by Douglas Gresham is a memoir of C.S. Lewis' stepson.  The more I find out about Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis' marriage, the more I want to hear about it, so this book by her son seems like an obvious read for me.
  • What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault is a murder mystery with a strong family story woven in.  To be honest, the cover drew me in, but I have a feeling the book is going to go a whole different direction.
  • Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes was at the dollar store, for $1.  I picked it up before I read The Shining Girls and now that I have read The Shining Girls, I worry it may be too gory for my taste, but I'm willing to give it a read.  Per Goodreads, it got slightly higher ratings that The Shining Girls.

2017 Totals
Read- 9, Acquired- 11

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Winter Bingo Wrap Up

Well, it was my first time playing Bookish Bingo, hosted by Bekka from Pretty Deadly Reviews.  I didn't get many books read this winter, but did manage to eek out a Bingo.  Here it is...


Set Abroad: The Man from Beijing by Henrik Mankell
Romance: Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange
Free
Blue Cover:
Stone Mattresses by Margaret Atwood
Unreliable Narrator: Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Simple

Also read...
GR Choice Nominee: The Trespasser by Tana French 
Not YA: The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg
Super Hyped: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brenea Brown

If you want to play along this spring, go to Pretty Deadly Reviews and sign up.

Friday, March 3, 2017

March Reading List


Here's what I'm looking forward to reading in March.
  • Still Mine by Amy Stuart was on my reading list way back last June, but I never got around to giving it a try.  It looks like a good mystery, so I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl.
  • Children of God by Mary Doria Russell is the sequel to my favorite read of 2016- The Sparrow.  I've had this copy for probably six months now, and finally decided it's time to give it a read.  I'm not expecting the same magic of The Sparrow, but I'm looking forward to seeing where this book takes those characters.
  • Soul Shift by Steve Deneff is nonfiction book all about spiritual transformation.  It details how we sabotage our efforts to change and how to shift your mindset.  It's been on my shelf for a while, but I feel like I could really use it now.
Have you read any of these?  Or have a recommendation for me?  Feel free to drop me a note in the comments letting me know.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Book Recap


February wasn't as good of a month for reading as I was hoping it would be.  To be honest, I've just been trying to survive the winter.  I haven't felt like doing much of anything- no reading, no cooking, no sewing.  Just working and occasionally going out to see friends.  My coping skills for winter consist of drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and napping.   I'm looking forward to spring though.  We just got more snow yesterday, but I feel optimistic that it can't last much longer.

Anyhow, on to the recap!

The only book I read was Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  It was funny and entertaining, if not a little predictable.  But, I liked the combination of letters, faxes, emails, and even medical bills used to tell the story.  I'm glad I finally read it,

What I added... well, my birthday is in February so some of these were gifts and a couple had been on my search list for a while.

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach as well as The Passenger by Lisa Lutz were all birthday gifts, although you really couldn't get much different than devotions written by a 17th century monk on being present in even mundane tasks and a thriller about two women on the run from their past.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is a book that I've been hunting for quite a while, so I was excited to find this one and Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende on Bookmooch.

Jo Nesbo is an author I've been wanting to read for a while, but I wanted to start the series at the beginning, so when I found The Bat at a used book store while on my weekend out of town, I snapped it up.  Definitely worth the $4 price tag.

So, while I added quite a few, all of these were ones I've been wanting to read.  I'm excited about that.  Totals for 2017, I've read five, added eight.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Recap

Okay, first off, February is always a tough month for me.  As I mentioned in my last post, Christmas is done, but there's still winter and snow and darkness and cold.  Cabin fever starts to hit a fever pitch.  But this February has been especially hard.

When I worked at the hospital, I worked the afternoon shift, so I could get out in the morning and go cross country skiing or even out of town for a few hours and go for a nice long car ride, but now I'm stuck indoors from sunset up to sundown.  Luckily, we are getting more sunlight so sundown is already starting to occur after I get home.  But really, I think there's nothing more depressing then going to work when it's dark and getting home and it's already dark.  I don't know how people in Alaska or those with really long commutes manage that.  So, I've been missing sunlight.

Then I turned 34, which happens every February.  You'd think I'd be used to it by now.  But no, it seems every year my birthday puts me in a funk, thinking of all the things I should have accomplished by now or how I imagined life turning out.

Then, last week, I came down with a nasty cold.  I actually missed work, which rarely happens.  But, I was just worn out.  I slept a lot and watched Netflix.  I've hardly read or created anything, but I'm feeling like winter is wrapping up and that's going to change now.

Here's what has been taking up my time...

Listening to: A lot of Avett Brothers and Avett Brothers type artists.  Loving this song from Shakey Graves and the True Sadness album from Avett Brothers.




Watching:
Black Mirror on Netflix.  I had forgotten season 3 was out on Netflix so I powered right through it.  I started it a couple years ago, and nearly gave up after the first episode which I thought was just gross and disturbing, but I'm so glad I kept watching.  There's swearing, violence, sex, and I definitely wouldn't let kids watch it, but the stories just blow my mind.  I really liked "Hated in the Nation" and "Nose Dive" best this season.  The episodes are all stand alone and question how we use technology and where we're headed.  Think of them as kind of cautionary tales.  I don't feel like I'm doing it justice, but it's so hard to categorize and I can't really think of anything to compare it to, except maybe like a modern day "Twilight Zone".

Traveling: I got up north with one of my friends to visit our friend that lives near the Wisconsin/Michigan border and we had a blast.  My brother took me out for my birthday where he lives.  We went to a restaurant I'd never been to so that was fun,  and then we went out for a few drinks with his girlfriend after she got off work.  It was actually a lot of fun.  I love going new places and my brother and I don't get to hang out very often. 

My Masterminds group and I also went to a room escape and did a puzzle.  Room escapes are right up my alley, but this was at the start of my cold, and I just felt a little off all night.

Room Escape
Here's our pictures.  We made it out with just under ten minutes to spare.  That's me on the end, with my coat and scarf on because I was freezing the whole time.  That should have been my first sign that I needed to be dosing with Vitamin C and Echinacea.

Eating: These Swedish Meatballs are the ultimate comfort food.  I've also made this crockpot recipe that is basically shredded chicken breasts, a can of drained black beans, undrained corn, a jar of salsa, and a pack of cream cheese.  It creates this rich, spicy, deliciousness.  It's so easy that I've made it twice already.

Looking forward to: I'm hoping to get back in my morning routine and want to get back to doing morning pages as well as more sewing and reading in March.  How was your February?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Galentines Swap Reveal


We've reached that stretch where winter starts getting unbearable here in Wisconsin.  Christmas is done, we've made New Year's Resolutions, but the days are still short and cold and there's still snow.  So, when I saw that sign ups where open for Sweet Progress' Winters Swap or Galentine's Swap as they nicknamed this season's I knew I had to join.

I was paired with the lovely Sana from SuperSana.  She is gorgeous and a motivational dynamo blogging about healthy living and weight loss.  I feel like if she lived near me, I'd do a lot better about keeping on my fitness goals.  Check her out, she's awesome!

Her package arrived Friday and it was filled with treats that were right up my alley!

Galentines Swap

It was so nice out this weekend, that I did my pictures out on the deck!  The snow is rapidly melting, and although I'm sure we'll get a few more dustings, it does do good for my soul to see signs that spring is coming.  But, anyways, lets look closer, shall we.

The whole package was cushioned in a sea of hot pink tissue paper and inside was a large paper mache box which I can't wait to doll up as well as a cute card, Dove and Ghiradelli chocolates, and these treasures...


This adorable desk set in gold with blinged out paper clips, clips to organize papers, sticky notes, and erasers.


Gel pens.  I love these.   They write like a dream and jazz up list writing and notes, as well as a face mask.  I keep a basket of pampering goodies just for times when I need a little extra TLC.


And, a lovely pink potholder and polka dot dish towel.  I love pretty things that are also practical.  And, this adorable K initial necklace.  I where more necklaces now that I work at the credit union so this will be great to add to my rotation.

It was such a fun and thoughtful package and I'm looking forward to keeping up with Sana's blog.  If you want to see what everyone else got, you can head over to the link up.  And be sure to follow Mrs. AOK or Happy.Pretty.Sweet. so you can join in next time!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Goals

Here we are, half way through February, and I still haven't listed my goals. My masterminds group got together last Monday, so we were already nearly a quarter of the way into February by then, so basically, what I'm trying to say is that this month is flying by!

Here's a recap of January:
  • Daily quiet time.  Managed to do this about 3/4 of the time.
  • Work out at least three times a week.  I think I only hit this once, but the rest were all two times a week.  One of my friends from work goes so a lot of times we convince the other one to go or I'd be going even less.
  • Church every Sunday.  Uhm, I made it twice.
  • Twelve blog posts.  We were at six.
  • Get together, or set dates to see four friends.  I did this!  There was some early morning breakfasts, an after work supper, and a weekend trip to see a friend about two hours north of here that was so much fun!
  • Send four letters.  I sent more than four letters, I'm not sure they were all encouraging, but at least people knew I was thinking of them.
  • Sew at least 1/2 an hour a week.  Happened only once.
  • Write at least 1/2 an hour a week.  Didn't happen at all.
  • Save $100 for travel.  Saved $50, but then spent it on my trip north.
  • Read four books.  Managed to accomplish that!

So here's February's goals.  I'm scaling back and since it's a short month, just focusing on a few things.
  • Read four books.
  • Paint my laundry room.  It's still the matte white it was when we moved here ten years ago.  I'm dreading it because the room is so tiny and there's five doorways to trim around along with a set of cabinets, and the washer and dryer.  But it's looking tacky and it's time.
  • Work out three times a week.
  • Get together with friends four times.
  • Twelve blog posts.
  • Start getting up at 5am.  This one would allow me almost four hours before I have to be to work, so it would give me more time to sew, write, or even clean before work.
So how did your January go, or how is your February going?  Let me know.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February Reading List

The books I picked for February are all fiction, but there's quite a variety of genres represented.

Here we go:
  • South of Superior by Ellen Airgood was loaned to me by one of my friends.  It takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is my most favorite spot, and seems to just be a story about small town living and how it shapes the protagonist who is new to the area.
  • Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple is written all in letters and emails and faxes and the like, but they all work together to tell the story of a mother who disappears and how her daughter resolves to find her.  More comedy than mystery, it's gotten great reviews.
  • Madd Addam by Margaret has been on my reading list, a couple times now- once in October of last year, and again in November of the year before.  I really want to finish up the trilogy, so I'm hoping this is the month I do it!
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is probably considered young adult, which I normally avoid, and reliving the awkward teenage years doesn't sound fun, but the book appears solid in the reviews department and to be honest, it's a little on the thin side so I figured it was a good pick for a short month. 😉
So there it is, my February reading list. What are you reading this month?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January 2017 Reading Recap

So we're already a month into the new year.  My goal for 2017 is to read 48 books.  (Same goal I've had for the past two years, but I haven't been able to reach it yet.  Third time's a charm.)  So, I need to read four books a month to stay on target.  Here's how January looked.



I did get four books read!  They were:
  • The Man from Bejing by Henning Mankell was a nice, cross continent mystery with action taking place in Sweden, China, and even western Africa.  I love a good Swedish mystery in the winter time, but this one kept you in the know for most of the story, and you knew half way through the book who the killer was and the motive, you were just hoping the main character would put it all together. 
    One thing that annoyed me was how naive Birgitta Roslin, the protagonist, was. She was smart and kept her wits about her for the most part, but she did some stupid things, like randomly asking strangers in Beijing if they recognized the picture she had of her prime suspect for a mass murder.  I may just be a cynical American but this seemed like a bad idea on so many levels- like first off, the odds are minuscule that anyone will recognize the man in the picture so it's probably a waste of time, and if they do, then what?  And, if they recognize him, it's probably not because he's a fine, upstanding citizen known for doing good.  She also gives out her contact information to everyone and their brother, and spills her guts about looking for a killer to random strangers, but won't tell her husband she was mugged.  It just didn't really make sense to me.
  • Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange, which was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice via letters many of the characters write each other.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  Due to the fact that it gave more dimension to Willoughby, Georgiana Darcy, and even Mary Bennett.  It was quite enjoyable. 
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown has been on my radar for quite a while, and I am glad I finally read it.  It was more about living a whole-hearted life, than about letting go of perfectionism, although I guess if you're a perfectionist than you need to let that go in order to live a whole-hearted life.  I am not a perfectionist, but it did really make me think about a lot of the things I do in my life, and make some resolutions on things that I need to change.
  • The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg was a Christmas gift from a friend and is all about living a happy life with less based on the Danish concept of Hygge.  Hygge is kind of like minimalism but it also involves nature, entertaining friends, good food, hominess, and being content.  I kind of picture it as practical minimalism.  I was happy to see I was already practicing a lot of the concepts, but it encouraged me to do more.  It's very practical and if you're new to the Hygge concept, I'd really recommend it.
As for what I acquired, both were Christmas gifts I received in January:
  • The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg which has already been read
  • Daily Rituals by Mason Currey is all about what different artists did to prime their creative pumps.  This was from a friend who I frequently discuss creativity with and it should be an interesting read.  Each artist is featured over one or two pages and just thumbing through it has proven interesting.
2017 totals: 4 Books Read/ 2 Books Acquired.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday- Must Read of 2017

This week, I'm joining up with the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish to share my top ten list.  This week is a freebie week, so you can make a list about whatever you want.  Mine is the list of books that have to get out of my TBR stack and get read!


I feel like my house is getting a little overran with books as of late, and I know my husband feels the same.  There's books stacked up in our living room, dining room, my office, and even our basement.  I know it's pointless to go on a book buying hiatus, because sometimes you find something you just can't pass up or you've been looking for forever, or you're fairly sure it's going to be one of those life changing reads. 😉 But, I do want to be more conscious about what I haul home this year.

So, here's the list of books that have been sitting on my shelves for far to long, and it's time for them to be read and passed on!


  1. MaddAdam by Margaret Atwood.  On the list since: 09/15/2013.  It's been on my monthly to be read list several times, and I enjoyed the other two books in the trilogy, love Atwood, but just can't seem to get this one read!
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  On the list since: 02/05/2014.  I hear nothing but good things about this book, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a big time tear jerker so I haven't read it yet.
  3. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  On the list since: 08/03/2015.  I love a good Scandinavian mystery and this is the first of a series so you'd think I'd be jumping all over it, but haven't yet.
  4. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay.  On the list since: 09/01/2015.  I liked the other book I read by her, and have even added this one to my monthly reading list, but it's yet to even get cracked open.   
  5. Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.  On the list since:10/04/2016.  The Sparrow was literally my favorite read of 2016, so when I found the sequel at the library book sale, why didn't I drop everything and immediately give it a read?  I don't know.  I guess I'm just worried it will be not that good.
  6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  On the list since: 06/26/2013.  Originally on a list of recommended reading from my Women's Studies professor.  I found a copy at a used book sale, snapped it up, and have proceeded to let it just sit on a shelf since.
  7. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  On the list since 08/03/2015.  Sad truth- I was unaware what the Appalachian Trail was until the whole scandal in South Carolina with Governor Mark Sanford's staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while he was really in South America with his mistress.  That was in 2009.  But now that I've learned of it's existence, it definitely intrigues me.  Bryson is funny and truthful, which I think will make a good mix for this book.
  8. Grace Eventually (Thoughts on Faith) by Anne Lamott.  On the list since: 07/01/2016.  I love Anne Lamott.  I think I may have mentioned that once or twice.  So I can't believe I've let this book sit on my shelf for even six months.  She encourages and makes you laugh and opens your eyes all while feeling like you're having a nice visit with a friend.
  9. An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina.  On the list since: 10/05/2015.  This is an autobiography of the man who stood up against the Rwandan genocide and hid people in the motel he managed, you may have seen the movie- Hotel Rwanda. 
  10. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.  On the list since: 06/26/2013.  I know I've had this book for longer than I've been on Goodreads, but I have yet to read it.  It's won a Pulitzer Prize, it's got a high rating, but I've just never picked it up.  I think this is the year I'll get it read.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

January Goals

A new year always feels like a fresh start at goals.  I know it's all a head game and you can get back on track anytime of year, but there's just a newness about a new year.  But, before I can get into 2017 plans, I have to recap 2016.  Ugh.  This isn't going to be pretty.

December Goals
  • Read four books. Only read two.
  • Drink 64 oz of water daily. Coffee? Maybe.  Water?  Not even close.
  • Restart morning pages.  Nope- only once.
  • Be present for Christmas.  It really didn't feel like Christmas until about Christmas night. I already have plans for next year.
  • Get 2017 planner read. Yes!  Managed to get a plan in place for this, and it's working so far.
  • Work on long term goals. Yes!  I have a 2017 and beyond to do list started and an idea of what I want the year to look like. 

2017 Theme: People and Experiences > Things
I want 2017 to be about trying new things and being with people instead of worrying about things and spending time maintaining them or looking at more stuff to buy online.  My house is full of books and things and I have plenty of projects I can work on that will require little more than elbow grease and time to get done.  I want to spend my extra money on travel and not more clothes or fabric or books or things I don't really need, so that's going to be influencing several of my monthly goals throughout the year.

January Goals
  • Daily quiet time.  Preferably in the morning, but time to do my Bible reading, some devotionals and just get in a good mindset for the day.
  • Work out at least three times a week.  With temperatres below zero and winter making it dark when I get up in the morning and dark when I get home from night, and just an overall feeling of lethargy, I finally broke down and joined the gym here in town with one of the girls from work.  We've been doing good about keeping each other motivated and I've found the elliptical is actually bearable when I have some music to listen to.
  • Church every Sunday.  I have been skipping out of church for over a year, and while I don't feel like you have to go to be a Christian, I felt like for me, it was time to go give it another look.
  • Twelve blog posts. I know I've been neglecting the blog, and I feel like I have a plan to remedy that.
  • Get together or set dates to see four friends.  Since leaving the hospital, I don't see a lot of my work friends regularly and while everyone says, "We need to get together." I want to actually do it.
  • Write four letters. I just want people to know I'm thinking of them.  So, sending cards is an easy way to do this.
  • Sew at least 1/2 an hour a week. I think a half an hour while easily turn into more, but I want to set a weekly goal because it's easy for me to neglect my sewing machine for weeks on end.
  • Write at least 1/2 an hour a week. I need to get over the fear of not writing well enough and just write.  Half an hour seems a reasonable starting place.
  • Save $100.   I travel on the cheap.  AirBNB and little mom and pop hotels are just my style, but travel still takes money so I want to set aside some money each paycheck to cover things like gas and food for trips.
  • Read 4 books!  This is going to be the year I reach 48 books!  I'm determined!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January Reading List

A new year, and a new chance to meet my reading goals!  I'm once again aiming for 48 books. (Third times the charm?)  So here's what on my list for the first month of the year.

  • The Gift of Imperfection by Brené Brown was originally on my reading list last September, but I never even started it.  For 2017, I really want to clear some room on my shelves and I really want to get some the books that have been on my reading list read.  I've heard Brené on a couple podcasts and a TED Talk so I'm thinking I'll enjoy this book all about overcoming the need to feel like an overachiever.
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton was originally written in the 1940s and is set in South Africa, involving race relations and injustice.  I know it's a pretty well known classic, but I never read it, so time to change that.
  • First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde has been on my shelf for years, but I had to track down the prior book in the Thursday Next series before I could read it.  I believe there's a time hop of several years in this one and I'm looking forward to having all the characters fresh in my head, because last time, there had been a couple years between me reading the books.
  • The Man from Beijing by Hennning Mankell, who is the author of the Wallander books, has been on my shelf for only a couple months, but I'm ready for a good Scandinavian mystery.  I love Wallander, but this one is a stand alone without him, so I thought it'd be a good starting point for my first foray into Mankell.
So, there it is.  What are you reading this month?  Or have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think?  Drop me a comment with your thoughts.

Monday, January 2, 2017

December Book Recap


December was kind of a shabby month for reading, but it always seems to be, with Christmas and everything.  I did finish two books and managed to only acquire the books my Secret Santa sent me.  So here we go.

Read
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood and it Atwood perfection.  It was nine short stories, the first couple connected the next couple not.  She has this way of writing that makes you feel for the characters.  You understand their motives, even if their motives are wrong or crazy or horrible.  I feel like she understands human emotion better than any writer, or maybe she's just not afraid to kick up the rocks and reveal the dark reasoning underneath.  She's just always great.
  • The Trespasser by Tana French was not my favorite Tana French but not my least favorite neither (for one does not dislike Tana French 😉).  It left me with a pretty substantial book hang over while I tried to process what it was about the story that kept it from blowing my socks off.  In the end, I think I thought Antoinette was too distracted with her own problems to see what was right in front of her nose.  She just was all wrapped up in thinking everyone was against her and Stephen was all wrapped up in far flung theories... Maybe it was their sleep deprivation, but I felt like they had a better rapport when they first met in The Secret Place.  The mystery was good, the solve was there, I just feel like they deserve another book.  Although, when you think about it, French frequently shows their detectives at lows instead of highs, so maybe this fits.  I just didn't enjoy it as much as some of her other books.
Acquired
All these came from my Broke and Bookish swap partner, so you can read more about the books here.
2016 Grand Totals 
Read: 36
Acquired: 54

So, I got  more books than I read.  But, the good news is my bookshelf is well stocked for 2017 and I hope to finally meet my book reading goal and cut back and how much I add to my collection.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Twelve Days of Christmas Swap Reveal

As those of you who participate in Chaotic Goddesses' swaps are aware, the Twelve Days of Christmas Swap is the last swap they are the last swap they are hosting for the foreseeable future.  Both ladies have plenty of other things in their life that are keeping them busy and I totally get that, but it's still sad, because they did amazing and the swaps were always so much fun.

For this finally swap I was paired with Shelly from Rain Drops and Pages and she put together the most amazing package!  I was totally spoiled.  Here's a peak:

Day:
  1. A Rudolph stocking hat, Santa pen, candy, Rudolph band-aids, and caffeinated, coffee flavored chocolate all stuffed in a stocking.
  2. A cute little snow man counted cross stitch kit, and a Merry Christmas banner kit,
  3. Holiday shot glasses that my cat was very interested in.  Beginning to wonder if she's sneaking into the liquor cabinet while I'm at work.
  4. Gingerbread cookie kit to assemble and decorate.
  5. Doctor Who, fourth doctor, Funko Pop figurine!
  6. Two sets of note cards and new gel pens.
  7. An awesome travel notebook with a pen and scrapbooking stickers.
  8. Christmas socks and a sleep mask.
  9. Sugar cookie mix with a snowflake cutter and sprinkles.
  10. A Christmas mug with hot cocoa mix and a huge candy cane.
  11. An adult coloring book with new watercolor colored pencils.
  12. An Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Funko Pop! 
It was such a fun package and she put so much thought into!  I just loved opening each day's gift and seeing what she had sent!

Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa Reveal!


So, I have a couple posts to share of 2016 awesomeness.  The first is my reveal from my Broke and Bookish Secret Santa!  This is one of my favorite swaps- although it's not really a swap because you send a package to one person, while someone else sends a package to you, but anyways.  Sarah had my name and she put together an amazing package.  Check it out.


I came home from work one day to find this large box sitting on my porch and inside was all this brightly wrapped awesomeness, I couldn't wait to tear into it.


Inside was three books that had been on my wishlist, Christmas cards, pencils, Christmas tissues, a to do list, scrapbook paper, washi tape, ribbon, hot cocoa sticks, lip balm, and a lovely note from Sarah.  I was totally spoiled!


The books she picked are all different genres which gives a nice variety. 
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is the account of a boy who was pulled into the Sierra Leone conflict by his own government at the age of twelve.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts ended up on my list after reading several reviews about it on other blogs.  I'm still not sure what the plot is, but I can't wait to find out.
  • Somewhere in France takes place in England and France in 1914, and sounds like it has some Downton Abbey elements to it, which intrigues me.
I can't wait to read all of these as well as enjoy all the other treats Sarah sent.