What I read: March 2016


While the early arrival of our sweet little girl threw a wrinkle in my reading groove, I still checked quite a few books off my list last month!

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass Series, Book #2)by Sarah Maas // ***** Fiction/Fantasy. This has been such a fun series to get lost in! I loved the twists and turns in this book – it kept my attention and delight just like the first book. (See my book #1 review here.)

More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger // ***** Non-Fiction/Self-Help. I’ve been borderline obsessed with getting rid of STUFF in our lives (see this post for proof), but this book was a great reminder that it’s not about just clearing space in our lives. It’s about being generous to others with what we have. I loved the author’s perspective and relationship with Clarence. This book tangibly challenged me to grow in generosity in several new ways.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty // ***** Fiction. This was a great read – one where I totally got sucked into the world these characters lived in. This was a twisty, great plot that kept my attention and surprised me again and again. Loved the author’s style – I’ve come to really enjoy her books!

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass Series, Book #3) by Sarah Maas // *** Fiction/Fantasy. This was by far my least favorite in the series so far. It seemed to delve so much deeper into this weird fantasy world and SO MUCH was happening with all the narrative focus changes. I lost interest in this not very far in and really only finished because I was already invested in the main characters. It felt long and very drawn out. (See my book #1 review here.)
Want more book reviews? Check out what I read in January and February.

Here’s what’s coming down the line for next month: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Great Expectations: the Essential Guide to Breastfeeding by Marianne Neifert, Finding Spiritual White Space: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray, Heading Home with Your Newborn: from Birth to Reality by Laura A. Jana and more I haven’t even started yet!:)

What have you read lately and loved? I’m always looking to add more to my GoodReads “to read” list! If we haven’t connected on GoodReads yet, let’s connect!

What I Read: February

What I read: February

Oh man, this was a good month for reading!! I love doing these monthly review posts because it felt like I hadn’t finished much last month, but as I made this list I realized I finished up 5! I feel pretty good about that. I set a goal of reading 50 books this year, and after February I’ve got 8 down, 42 to go. Here’s what this past month looked like for me:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // ***** Fiction. Wow!! I loved this book. The style of Semple’s writing was so interesting to me, and the way the story unfolded as you figured out what happened… Brilliant! I loved the characters and the plot line – this is not a book that’s been written a million times already. This was easily a book I got lost in and finished in a matter of days.

Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer by Jenn Sprinkle, Kelly Rucker // ***** Devotional. This was a fabulous devotional. It’s definitely one that I will keep in my rotation to do a couple times each year. It’s a super quick daily devo: each day was about a page to a page and a half of a prayer, 3-5 Scripture references and then 3 questions to think about pertaining to that day’s topic. I often journaled through the question prompts each day or reflected on the Scripture passages, but reading the prayers out loud each day was my favorite part! There were many days that felt as if these women tapped right into what I needed to speak to God. I loved doing this while also reading through my SheReadsTruth daily study, as that gave me more meat of Scripture to read.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes // **** Fiction. This was a beautiful, heartfelt and tear-jerking story! I loved the character development, but I didn’t love the changing perspectives throughout the novel. It seemed like the perspective changes were random, not quite often enough, so every time it changed I was thrown off a bit. However, I absolutely fell in love with the main characters and enjoyed seeing their relationships with each other change and grow. This was another quick read!

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst // *** Christian Non-Fiction. Let me start off by saying that I really wanted to love this book. I had heard so many wonderful things from friends who had read it already that my expectations must have been too high, because this just didn’t do much for me. There were some great points worth remembering and applying, but overall it left me wanting more depth. I read this with a couple friends, so we took about two months to get through it, and while the chapter titles usually got us excited about what was next, we didn’t feel like she hit the nail as hard as we had hoped each time. Only 3 stars for this one.

True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God by Bob Kauflin // *** Christian Non-Fiction. This book was incredibly slow for me. It’s relatively short, so I had imagined it would be a quick read, but I struggled to get myself through it. It picked up for me about 3/4 of the way through, but ended pretty slow again. I think I had imagined it would be more directed toward worship leaders and practical ways to grow as a leader, but it was directed more toward the Christian body as a whole and worship in every part of our lives. Again, even writing that makes it sound like something I’d totally eat up, but this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Books that are carrying over from February to March: More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity (LOVING this so far!), Great Expectations: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding, and Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2).

What did you read last month and love??

If we haven’t already connected on GoodReads, you can find me here! I love seeing what my friends are reading and adding to my ever-expanding “to-read” book list!

PS – you can check out what I read last month here!

What I read: January

  

I did a lot of reading in January, but not a lot of book finishing if you get my drift. 😉 I have a lot of books carrying over into February! BUT! I did finish a few that I really enjoyed last month! So if you’re looking for some fun reads to get you through this wintery month of love (ha!), here you go!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins // ***** Fiction. I loved the style of this book! At first I wanted Rachel to just get herself together, but after a few chapters I got lost in wondering what happened to her to make her the way she was. This book is a very intriguing read and, although it could have been a bit shorter (it got a little repetitive toward the middle/end), I enjoyed this immensely! A great quick, entertaining, fun read!

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty // **** Fiction. I was going to give this book only three stars before I got to the Epilogue – that’s what really sold it for me. I enjoyed this book, but it did not live up to the hype it seemed to receive last year, which left me a little disappointed. However, the Epilogue sold it for me because it truly captured the complexity of life and all the possibilities of how every situation can turn out.

Throne of Glass (#1 in the Throne of Glass series) by Sarah J. Mass // ***** Fiction/Fantasy.  This was a VERY FUN read! I was honestly skeptical, as I usually am with books in this genre. I loved Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and the Divergent series, but I do not like anything vampire-y or too love story related… so I tend to shy away from fantasy style books in general. But I gave this one a shot and I’m so glad I did! This book was a page turner – I loved the character development and the creativity of the story line. I’m pretty sure I finished this one in just a couple days.

 

Books that are carrying over from January to February: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer, The Best Yes, and True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God.

 

What did you read last month and love?? 

If we haven’t already connected on GoodReads, you can find me here! I love seeing what my friends are reading and adding to my ever-expanding “to-read” book list!

8 Books you don’t want to leave 2015 without

2015 was the year of discovering GoodReads for me. For those of you who don’t know, GoodReads is a social media tool for organizing your book lists. You can track what you want to read and what you have already read, as well as see what your friends are reading!

As a book lover, I love having all my “to reads” in one place, as well as all of my book reviews in one place! After finishing a book, I usually try to give it a rating so that I can remember later what I thought about the book. If I really loved (or hated) the book, I’ll also write a review. One of my favorite features, though, is seeing what other people are reading. Hence my ever-expanding “to-read” list.

My goal last year was to read 30 books, but I actually read 42! I won’t bore you with all of them, but I do want to share my top 8 from this past year.

8. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community
by Andrew Marin (5 Stars) – I wavered on whether or not to put this one on my list, but it was definitely in my top eight this year. This topic of conversation can be a bit… heated, to say the least, in Christian circles, unfortunately. I’ve been trying to do some research in forming my opinions on this topic, and this book was incredibly illuminating. In light of the damage much of the Christian community has cast onto this group of people, this book did a great job humanizing the topic and encouraging conversation. I’d highly recommend it.

7. Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God
by Bob Kauflin (5 Stars) – This book is geared toward worship pastors and worship leaders, but it was super encouraging for me as a new worship pastor! Not much of it was eye opening material, but it was full of great reminders that easily get lost in the week in, week out routine of scheduling people and songs, working with volunteers, etc. This will probably be a book I come back to time and time again when I need some encouragement or just fresh eyes for how to better lead my ministry!

6. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
by Mark Batterson (4 Stars) – This is an awesome book for anyone looking to reinvigorate her prayer life. This book fueled a new fire within me for praying truthfully and radically for things going on in our lives. I will probably put this on my list to read again this year! Jacob also got me the Draw the Circle
40 day prayer challenge companion for this book for Christmas, so I can’t wait to dig into that.

5. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
by Julia Cameron (5 Stars) – I did this book with two of my close friends last year. It’s definitely a commitment once you start: it takes 12 weeks if you follow the design and complete the tasks each week. And while it was sometimes hard to keep up with in the midst of my daily life, it was an extremely encouraging and creatively re-fueling process. Last year was a healing year for me – I felt burnt out from blogging and the creative elements it entails, but was still searching for my own creative self outside of blogging. This book was a healing tool for me and I’d recommend it to all of my blogging and creative friends!!

4. What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty (5 Stars) – This book was so fun and entertaining! It’s another quick read for someone who loves to get lost in the world of fiction. It was also all the rage last year, so you’ve probably heard of it;).

3. All God’s People: An Exploration of the Call of Women   by John E. Phelan Jr. (5 Stars) – YES YES YES. This book. I read this one with another friend who wanted to explore this topic and this (very short!) book was extremely illuminating and thought provoking. It did not answer all my questions or feed me a tidy theology on the subject of women in the church, but it helped me to more solidly question the things I had always wondered about, but couldn’t defend well. It helped me to feel uncomfortable with where we are as a Church today, not just due to unsure feelings, but because of Scripture and Jesus’ attitude toward his people.

2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
by Jen Hatmaker (5 Stars) – I recommend this book for anyone who has ever questioned any part of how you spend your time, money, resources, etc. Hatmaker graciously shatters your reality as she goes through this experiment of hers, but keeps you laughing the whole way. I love her down to earth attitude and desire to not let the life we’ve been given slide through her fingers. I was so convicted by this book in a way that inspired me to move forward and make changes to my life.

1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (5 Stars) – This book was so intriguing! It pulled you through all the emotions of a family experiencing the death of one of their own and trying to understand it. Race, parental expectations, social struggles… all of it was so real and heartbreaking, I wanted to stop reading because my heart hurt so much. But I’m glad I didn’t stop. The premise of the story and the way it was written was incredibly well done. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a quick but engaging read!

Happy reading, book worms!

Cool winter mornings & great friends.

Winter ain’t got nothin’ on me yet.

I kicked off this morning with a nice winter walk to meet up with two girl friends for breakfast downtown. One of them lives only a block away, so we walked together, all bundled up in our hats, gloves, boots and warm coats. The air felt cool and crisp, so wonderfully clean and promising. There’s something just so lovely about early mornings partnered with the anticipation of the new year.

We met to catch up and discuss The Best Yes– we are reading it together and I am so excited for the encouragement this will (hopefully) bring to all of us! God has been speaking loudly to my heart through the various things I’ve been reading over this past month, and that only gets me more hopeful for all he is going to do in my heart in 2016.

Today I’m incredibly grateful for friends who push you to change – to be challenged, to read, to discover more of who you are – and who (most importantly) accept and love you for whoever that person turns out to be.

I’m thankful for the cool winter air and the freedom today to enjoy it, to treat myself to breakfast out, to run errands and to hang out with Jacob. We are soaking up our last days of vacation gladly.

Operation Read Your Shelves: The Circle Maker

For the month of January, I read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.

To be truthful, I read 7 books last month. Seven!! I’d say that is a direct correlation to the fact I wasn’t blogging. If that doesn’t tell you how much time I usually spend blogging, I don’t know what would.

My month of was absolutely fantastic, but more about that another day. For now, I want to shout from the rooftops about this book! I’d heard a lot about it over the years, but never really heard what it was about other than “prayer.” While I knew I needed to grow in my prayer life, that description didn’t really lure me into checking it out yet, if you know what I mean.

But I finally did. And I couldn’t put it down. Batterson combined basically everything I’m passionate about into one book: chasing Jesus with all you have and doing so with your God-given passions.

“The day we stop dreaming is the day we start dying. When imagination is sacrificed on the altar of logic, God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him. In fact, the death of a dream is often a subtle form of idolatry. We lose faith in the God who gave us the big dream and settle for a small dream that we can accomplish without His help. We go after dreams that don’t require divine intervention. We go after dreams that don’t require prayer. And the God who is able to do immeasurably more than all our right bran can imagine is supplanted by a god – lowercase g- who fits within the logical constraints of our left brain” (p. 43).

Can I get an amen? This book has really encouraged me to listen for God and embrace the whispers I hear, even if they are much bigger and scarier than I could imagine. I don’t want to spend my life worshiping my own accomplishments by dreaming small – I want to live radically, trusting God to do big things and praying daily that he will.

I can’t wait to read your reviews – you can find out what Operation Read Your Shelves is all about below, and link up your posts at the bottom of mine! 🙂

So, what’s Operation Read Your Shelves all about?

ORYS is a book review link up geared toward people who love to buy books, but aren’t great at reading them. In other words, you have shelves full of books you haven’t read yet. And you probably have a few sitting in your GoodReads “Want to Read” List, too. 😉

This link up is a great way to hold yourself accountable to reading a book or two that you already own OR actually reading the new books you buy each month, and it will absolutely feed your growing list of to-read books. So you can get some reading done, connect with other book lovers and add more great books to your list!

The link up goes live the First Monday of each month, so mark your calendars! Have questions? Check out this post, or comment below and I’ll answer ASAP.

You can read the October ORYS post here.
You can read the November ORYS post here.
You can read the December ORYS post here.

 

Now, let’s link up!

A few notes:
1. The next link up will be Monday, March 2nd.

2. The link up will be live today through Friday at midnight, so you can link up your posts until then.

3. Please either link back to this post in your post, or display the button below. Also, use the #OperationReadYourShelves to share via social media!

34 Magnolia Street
34 Magnolia Street
4. Go visit and comment on other blogs! That’s the point of link ups – to grow in community and share our book finds with one another!Have any more questions? Check out this post for more info, or comment with your question below!

Link up your posts below:
*When completing link up form, please title your link BLOG NAME: BOOK TITLE as “title.”

 

An InLinkz Link-up

Do you want an email reminder a week before next month’s ORYS post goes live?! Leave your email in the comments & I’ll add you to my list.