Category Archives: books

5 Books to Read and Love

This piece originally appeared on The Grit and Grace Project at the beginning of the year. These books are still great, even if you’ve already kicked off this year’s reading venture!

Every year, I make a resolution to read more. I know it’s a common resolution, so I’m assuming a few of you out there made it this year, as well! Here are a few reads I’ve loved recently to get you started on your reading goal!

The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley. What a beautiful, beautiful story this was! I grabbed it off the employee’s picks at Barnes and Noble, and I read it in less than two days. It’s the story of a woman whose mother was adopted, searching for her family history, not knowing what (and how much) she’d find. I loved the artistic influences there as well.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. This mystery had me thinking about it all day, even when I wasn’t reading. Bernadette is lost somewhere, and it’s her daughter and husband’s job to track her down. Full of surprises and oddments, with a little drama, this book is one you’ll fly through, just so you can know how it ends!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. If you haven’t read this one, it’s a must! I love Moriarty’s books anyway (specifically What Alice Forgot) but this one is a book I couldn’t put down till I’d solved the puzzle. I encourage you to read before you watch the miniseries, if it’s on your list, too. The cast is great but there are some changes, so read first if you can!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I know this one isn’t remotely new – quite the opposite! This classic is timeless, and full of beautiful imagery. This year is the perfect time to read it, or REread it, since the movie comes out in March!

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan. If you don’t know about Bunmi Laditan, look her up and give her a follow right now. She’s hilarious, and her novel is no exception! More horribly laughable things happen to the protagonist (a business woman-turned-stay-at-home mom) than you would think possible; you will literally laugh out loud!

AND! Coming out this year are some other books by authors we love, so keep a lookout for I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell (I love her book This Must Be the Place) and You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfield (I love her book American Wife). There are also new books on deck from James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Danielle Steele, if you have been reading their books for years like I have! Good luck with your reading goals – and tell me what you like, so I can read it, too!

NEW BOOK! Mom Life: Perfection Pending

I have a friend I’ve met through writing online – not just any friend, but one who writes amazingly well, inspires me to be a better mama, and sometimes even publishes my work on her site (Heyyyyyy Meredith, thanks!). Just this week, she just released her first book! I couldn’t WAIT to share about it, so I thought I’d give her some love.

The book is called Mom Life: Perfection Pending (a nod to her website’s title). She writes about the imperfection of good moms everywhere… how we do the best we can, even through our failures and shortcomings, at the hardest task: parenting. It’s a read that’s relatable to everyone with a child of any age!

Here’s the Amazon link if you’d like to purchase it!

As always, you can follow Meredith Ethington on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for humor and a healthy dose of parenting realness.

PLEASE go read her book! I promise you will LOVE it! And don’t forget to buy a copy for a friend 🙂

Currently – February!

Hi there! The first Wednesday of each month, I join a link party called Currently to share what’s going on in my little corner of the world. So, without further ado, I’m sharing, along with Anne in Residence and many, many others, what I’m up to currently!img_0358

Finishing || book after book! I’m so proud of myself for actually keeping up with it. Now, I’m five episodes behind on This Is Us, but I’m keeping up with my reading! I just finished Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. I enjoyed them both immensely!

Subscribing || to a couple of new podcasts. I’m REALLY enjoying Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing and a local podcast here, called Pictures and Pages on the Everyday Exiles Podcast Network. You may have seen some of my writing there on Everyday Exiles’ blog, and I’m a contributor on two of their other podcasts, but as a movie lover AND a book lover, Pictures and Pages is right up my alley!

Wishlisting || some cold weather running gear. I just ordered a base layer shirt (32 degrees brand – anyone know it? Like it? Hate it?) and a second Buff (I use it in the summer for sweat control and the winter to keep my ears warm, so I figured a second one just means I have to run them through the wash less often) to see if that’ll be enough for the last month of cold. I don’t run outside if it’s below 38 degrees or so (with a few exceptions, like lots of sunshine or extreme cabin fever) so I truly don’t need layers and layers of warmth… just something to keep in the heat I’m creating without making me burn up and die. (Runners, y’all catch my drift?)

Watching || not much TV, but if I’m watching at all, I’m cuddling with the hubs to Battlestar Galactica (the newer one) or I’m binging/catching up on This Is Us. I can only handle so many tears at one time. BUT! Can we all just agree that New Girl needs to start back up?!

Hearting || my boys playing so well together. They don’t, by any means, always enjoy each other. Sometimes they fight or argue or hurt each other on purpose (because boys). But Hubby snapped this picture of them the other day and sent it to me, and I almost had a cuteness-induced stroke.

They are such good buddies, aged 4 and 2.5, and I hope it sticks! Does anyone else have sons that are also good playmates and friends?!

Link up or comment and tell me what’s going on in your life currently!!

Recent Reads

I don’t always write book review about every book I read, no matter how hard I try. So here is a list of books I’ve recently finished, with a little blurb about them and why I would recommend them to you! (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen these titles throughout the last month!)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I heard about this one on a podcast (listen to it here! It’s Pictures and Pages, No. 3.) and immediately knew I needed to order it – and order it I did! Then I read it in less than a week. It’s a beautiful example of writing, with all the emotions and big feels you could want (any other Enneagram type 4’s?!) packed into an atypical post-apocalyptic story. Most books on the topic are young adult-driven, but this wasn’t as “easy read” as many of them are (not to say it was difficult). There were more surprises, more intricately-woven characters and connections than just a book written for teenagers and weird love triangles.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This does happen to be a book that is often thought of as “children’s literature”, and I definitely read it first as a child. But a writer I love (Annie F. Downs) said she was reading all of L’Engle’s books this year, and I thought I’d try to join her since I had set a pretty lofty – for me in this life stage – goal of reading 25ish books this year. I am trying to read some of the books I’ve bought in the past, instead of only buying new ones (I know I just said I bought Station Eleven – that was an exception!) so I started with the only L’Engle already on my shelf! It’s beautifully written, a creative story representing a fight against darkness and sin. It also falls loosely into the sci-fi category, including time-travel (or wrinkling) and some strange occurrences therein.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. This book was a part of Oprah’s Book Club, so you know it’s good. Written by a gal who grew up in a missionary family in China, she has a unique perspective of how life worked for a traditional Chinese family in the late 1800s-early 1900s. It was eye-opening from a cultural and historical perspective (assuming it’s pretty accurate) but also a neat story, spanning the entire lifetime of a rural farmer. This is an example of a book someone gave me to read that I didn’t get around to for a couple of years.

Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger. I have long loved Catcher in the Rye, and so when I spotted this one on my shelf (I think it was my Hubby’s) I had to read it! It is lovely prose, mostly just an ongoing conversation between siblings Franny and Zooey. There are incredible examples of where stream of consciousness takes us, and lots of big words I had to look up – which I consider to be a good thing!

The next book on my list (which I just started yesterday!) is The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, I also read her bookHag-Seed: The Tempest Retold last year. She’s become a favorite of mine.

What are you reading right now? What should I add to my list for the year?! Bonus points if you will let me borrow it!!

Currently: 2018!

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s already 2018! My ten year college reunion is in April, our 9 year wedding anniversary will be in June, and our kids are all getting so big!! Goodbye, 2017! You were good to ya, but we’re excited about 2018!img_0358

Linking up with Anne in Residence for our first Currently of the year! Here’s what I’m up to:

Starting || the year off with my eyes in the Word (more than I ever have!) and my heart listening for Jesus. Instead of making resolutions and setting goals that I probably would never follow through with, I’m trying to go wherever God leads me. It’s a perspective shift I’m excited about!

Hoping || for as successful a year as we had in 2017! We started off by getting rid of the crib (!!!) and hopefully we’ll ditch the changing table soon! We also switched our health insurance away from a private BCBS plan to Samaritan Ministries, and we are SO excited. Hoping it’s as awesome as we have heard it is!

Scheduling || an already busy January. Well visits at the doctor, church activities, a wedding, a couple of birthday parties… we’ve already got a full month! Hopefully we’ll be able to keep up with it all and enjoy ourselves, too!

Reading || a few goodies to begin the year. I’m on a podcast (more info to come!) about the Chronicles of Narnia, so I’ll be reading through those as we record. I’m reading Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly with a friend (so convicting, in a good way!) and I just began Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. When I found it on the shelf, I was actually looking for Catcher in the Rye (another book of his) but when I found this one, I figured, “Why not?!” When I finish it, I’m planning to reread A Wrinkle In Time (I LOVE Madeleine L’Engle). My only resolution/goal last year was to read for pleasure every day and not push myself through any book I wasn’t enjoying. While I didn’t quite make that (I doubt I read every day) I read a whole LOT of books (around 20, I think, which is a lot for me as a mom) and that doesn’t count books I read to the kids! Yay! So I’m thinking that I’ll just try to do that again this year, and maybe increase my number a little. I truly love reading, so it’s a self-care thing for me. It definitely lets my brain relax!

Playing || with all our new Christmas toys and games. We haven’t broken out Guess Who? yet, but that’s next on my list! School started back today, and so I bet I’ll have a little more margin for planned play with my kids. I was getting burned out because I couldn’t get anything done… drowning in Christmas leftovers (of the trash, toy, and decor variety) I could barely keep my head above the housework. Here’s hoping I’m a more patient, fun mom now that I have a couple of hours in the day to get my productivity in without feeling like I have to tell them, “No, I can’t play with you right now.”

Well here’s hoping for a wonderful 2018! Tell me all about what you’re up to currently!!!

Book Review: The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley

Y’all know I love a good book. I love it even more when I just can’t put it down. I love it EVEN MORE when I simultaneously can’t wait to see how it ends but don’t really want it to be over, because I’m attached to it. This book was all of that for me. I read it in a little over 24 hours – a testament to how good it was, and also that it happened to be that time of limbo between Christmas and New Year’s. The perfect time for a splendid read.

lost and found.jpg
Image found on Amazon.com

It was an awesome combination of romance, a little history, some art, and surprises. Lucy Foley did an amazing job hopping back and forth from the past (mostly the 20s, but some parts up through WWII) and “present” (which happened to be the 80s). That often tends to confuse and/or frustrate me, but it was done clearly and purposefully, which I totally appreciated.

We follow Kate, who has recently lost the only family she knows, through a journey to find where she came from. Her mother, a prima ballerina, was adopted, and Kate needs to know who her family would have been if she hadn’t been given up. It’s an incredible journey through the past, and Kate’s feelings during the present, to find the truth, and from there, decide where she should go. There are wonderful, true feelings on every page, and a couple of love stories told, wanted, missed, and achieved. There are intricate characters to love, and ones to hate, just like every great book should have.

I can best describe the book with a great quote from near the end: You want a love story.  But you see, I’ve given you a love story. It just doesn’t all work out the way one might have written it.

20 Reasons to Read to Your Kids Every Single Day

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

Sometimes, I’m trying to do 100 things at once. I’m cleaning, cooking, reading, giving advice, trying to keep myself healthy, saving my children from disaster… you know, just the regular stuff. But every once in a while, one of my kids wanders up to me with a book in his hand, or interrupts me while I’m getting some work done to ask if I’ll read to her. If I possibly can, I say yes. I drop almost anything to read to my kids. Why? Why is it so important to me that I would read to my kids any time they ask?

Because I love reading.

Because they love reading.

Because reading is for every age.

Because reading makes them smarter.

Because reading means you have to slow down.

Because reading to them won’t last forever.

Because reading is a pleasure that can transport them to another world.

Because reading is a way to connect with them.

Because reading opens their eyes to new experiences, ideas, and points of view.

Because reading is a joy that begins early.

Because reading is fun.

Because reading to them means getting a snuggle, too.

Because reading is something I can do with all of my kids at the same time.

Because reading creates time together.

Because reading makes them laugh.

Because reading makes me laugh.

Because reading makes me cry.

Because reading helps them learn about emotions.

Because reading to them turns into reading with them.

Because reading with them turns into them reading to me.

I’ll drop anything to pick up a book and read with my children. That time with them is special, and fleeting. I know from my years of teaching that almost any age of children love to be read to, but I also know that when they get older and busier, that time becomes harder to carve out. So right now, while they’re little, while they bring me books while I’m folding laundry, I’ll read to them. I’ll gladly let the laundry wait to have a snuggle and a book with my kids.

Research has shown that reading to children for at least 20 minutes every day can increase their reading abilities early on, increase their exposure to language and larger vocabularies, improve their attitudes towards reading for school, and increase their likelihood to graduate from high school on time, and go on to receive a higher education degree. Those reasons should be enough for parents to spend the time with their kids reading each day, but when you couple that with extra snuggles, quality time, and getting to hear their cute (or let’s be honest: hilarious!) thoughts on the stories and characters? I’m sold. My kids have the best questions and silliest ideas after we read books together. I would never want to miss out on that. I get to peek inside their minds for a minute when we discuss what the books are about. I get such good opportunities to talk with them about things we would never think of to say. Reading with your kids is a great way to get to know them a little bit better. Don’t miss out on it. It makes a difference for all of you.