Reading Lately

Y'all, I have finished several books this weekend and thought I'd share them here with you! I am on a huge reading kick at the moment and loving it!

The Sweet Smell of Magnolia and Memories by Celeste Fletcher McHale

This was a sweet story of facing your past and what it means to forgive yourself and others in order to move forward. It was a story with redemption for the various characters, how to process grief and how to love people well in the midst of their mess. It was a sweet love story between a man and a woman, yes, but also between families and friends. If you want a sweet story that will speak to your soul, this is worth reading.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3/5

Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie

Honestly, this book is not very memorable. It had a trio of friends that felt relatable and they faced issues of an affair, jealously and relationship doubt. I don't like that the main character had to cheat on her fiancé in order to know she wanted him. I thought the relationships were painted very superficially and while this was an easy read, I wouldn't waste your time.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2/5

Birds in the Air by Frances O'Roark Dowell

I loved this sweet book! I found myself wanting to become a quilter and move to this small North Carolina Appalachian town. I wanted to be friends with the characters. It was just a charming, satisfying read! The book is about finding yourself and your passions, finding friendships, building community and discovering new gifts. It genuinely is one of the sweetest books I've read this year, if not in even longer than that and highly recommend you give it a chance!

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4/5

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander

I really enjoyed this story. I fell in love with the town and the characters and really enjoyed the insight into the craft beer world that ties everything together. While the murder isn't revealed until around chapter 12 and the discovery of the killer in the final chapters feels a bit rushed, i understand wanting to build depth of characters in starting a new series. I am looking forward to reading more in this series as they are published and looking for the author's previous series at our library.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

3/5

Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman

I thought this was a cute, easy read about the courage to express love, the importance of family and true friendship, and just a sweet love story.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2/5

Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey

Growing up Catholic, I hadn't heard of Charles Spurgeon before, but really enjoyed learning about him and his friend Thomas, a man who found Jesus in the depths of slavery and went on to preach about the profound freedom found in Christ. I enjoyed the writing style of this book, and the clear love and research that went into its creation. I love the way this book addressed depression, faith, slavery, family, calling and love. I'd highly recommend it!

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4/5

Queen Victoria's Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages That Shaped Europe by Deborah Cadbury

I enjoyed this look at the role Queen Victoria played in the marriages of her seven crowned grandchildren. I always enjoy books about Queen Victoria and her descendants and the incredible role the family played in the politics of Europe.

However, I did not feel like I learned anything new in this book. It is however and interesting read if you enjoy the subject.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3/5

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

This was a fun play on the understood dynamics of relationships from Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed he modern characters and found his an easy, surface read to occupy a couple hours on a cold, rainy day.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2/5

TBB Asks

We had a low-key weekend this week where I finished multiple books, we enjoyed a long walk on the river trail, and Sunday night we ordered in Chinese take-away.

On our walk around the river trail and campus this weekend, unnoticed that the leaves and ivy are already beginning to change and we had cool weather in the 60s this weekend. Autumn is coming which fills me with joy for my favorite season, but I want to hold on to summer for just a bit longer!

So, today I thought I would join in with the women of The Blended Blog.

1. I love the pool, lake and ocean! The pool reminds me of summer swim team as a kid and going to the pool almost daily for fun growing up. The lake reminds me of living in North Dakota and Alabama where Lake weekends with friends were a special treat. I know the river isn't on this list, but the river takes me back to living in Great Falls and Missoula, Montana where spending time on the river was a highlight of bonding with friends – from float trips, to white water rafting, to jumping off rope swings and having picnics by the shore. The ocean has always been a soothing favorite, but it wasn't until my first beach trip with my husband's family that the ocean really took a solid lead. The beach they go to has the best ocean! It is warm and clear and the waves are softer – it's heavenly!

2. I stay at hotels most often, but love a fun cottage or bed & breakfast! I enjoy camping, but haven't been since freshman year of college.

3. Mint chocolate chip ice cream has always been my favorite! I also love vanilla, Ben & Jerry's cherry garcia and lemon sorbet.

4. Nightgowns are my favorite! But in the cooler months I like to wear pajama pants and a t-shirt, so that I just have to throw on a jacket when Mavis wakes us up to go out in the middle of the night.

5. My favorite summer beverages are water, sweet tea and lemonade. All three are so refreshing! I also love prosecco and margaritas when I want an adult beverage.

6. I would rather be cold. It's easier to add layers of clothing or snuggle under blankets than to be unable to mitigate being too hot.

7. I love my wedges, but all my true sandals are flat.

8. I don't really wear shorts or skirts. Well, I wear my Nike shorts to workout or lounge in. But I prefer casual dresses.

9. I sit in the shade. I love the warm feel of the sun on my skin, but I have pale skin and am at high risk for skin cancer between my coloring and the number of cancer spots my mama has had removed. It's not worth the warmth to me. Protect your skin!

10. I drink all three! I love water, particularly if it's been jazzed up with some lemon, basil or other fruits. Tea, both hot and cold, is something I love reaching for and unfortunately, I have a love of Diet Coke I'm trying to kick.

11. Summer fruits and vegetables are my favorite! I look forward to them all year! I don't think I can pick just one, because I truly enjoy them all!

12. I love watching the dawning of a new day and seeing a day say farewell. There is something so soothing about both, but I think I love sunrise more. There's something special about them.

13. I haven't ridden a bike since mine was stolen in college. However, I love walks!

14. Both are fun and I enjoy seeing the process and learning about both beer and wine. However, not being able to drink beer definitely pushes me to team winery!

15. We don't have a garden, but I want one! For now, I am working to keep my hanging flowers and indoor herbs alive. Next summer we'll see about adding some berry bushes and vegetables. I do also want some hydrangeas in our yard!

16. I love both! Summer concerts feel so classic and the first couple years out of college I feel like I went to so many summer concerts! However, having a picnic and enjoying a casual evening while listening to music in the park is such a fun way to spend an evening and I have fond memories of doing it as a kid too.

17. When we cookout I love grilled chicken and vegetables. I enjoy steak and burgers too, but grilled chicken is my go to!

18. If the weather is nice I will always love dining al fresco. We eat inside enough when it's cold and snowy outside that it seems a shame to waste gorgeous evenings! However, without a fence at the moment it's not fair to Mavis to enjoy eating outside when she has to stay inside, so this summer we haven't dined outside often.

19. My favorite summer destinations are the beach and the mountains. How typical, right! I love heading up to the mountains to hike and go white water rafting and I love going to the beach to relax and unwind – particularly the hidden oasis my in-laws go to every year!

20. If I had to choose, I'd pick a big theme park like Disney or Universal. But, I'm not big on roller coasters or large crowds, so I'd just as soon choose neither.

21. I love a margarita on the rocks! Blended can be too sweet.

22. I love lemon popsicles and Italian ice. It's so refreshing!

23. I am a hamburger girl through and through – no cheese, please! I'll eat a hot dog at a ball park, but I much prefer a brat if given a choice.

How would you answer these questions?

Coffee Talk

Good Morning and Happy Thursday!

Today I thought I'd share a cup of coffee with you and a bit of what is on my heart lately.

I am really ready to find a job. I've been applying to anything and everything I am remotely qualified for or overqualified for, but have yet to even have an interview. It is discouraging to find job postings and get excited, then hear nothing – not even that they've gone with another candidate. I need to be working and plugging into the community and bringing in an income. So, I'm feeling a bit discouraged in that department right now.

I am loving our new home! I think my favorite room right now is our dining room. The light is beautiful, I love the view to the park across the street, I love the comfort of our chairs and spreading out my computer, Bible, notebook and coffee as I work for the day on my Bible study and job applications.

This week I began two new Bible studies. The first is with She Reads Truth and is going through 1 and 2 Samuel and focuses on the life of David. The second is going through the book of Galatians alongside Nicole. I love that I have a study going in both the old and new testaments right now.

The weather here has been beautiful this summer! The average temperatures have been on the 70s and we've had frequents rains which have kept the earth so green and lush – such a change from the high desert climate we were in before. It's been beautiful to go for walks and to explore little local parks.

I'm looking forward to a trip William and I have coming up to Ithaca and to explore the town, colleges, and all of the waterfalls while hopefully finding some incredible New York wines and ciders!

I'm also looking forward to the trip to Colorado at the end of the month to celebrate my sister's birthday and marriage, and the opportunity to spend time with family and see aunts, uncles and cousins I haven't seen in far too long – some for well over a decade!

I've also been on a big reading kick lately and have been loving the ability to visit so many worlds and neighborhoods through the gift of reading! I'm always looking for new book recommendations, so what have you been reading lately?

What's on your heart today?

Current Wish List

Happy Wednesday friends! Today I thought I would share some of the items I’ve been looking at lately and have added to my wishlist.

I love this sign and have long wanted to have this verse in my dining room. I love the simplicity of this version and already have the perfect spot picked out for it to hang.

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I got a pair of Brooks running shoes in May and have loved them! They are hands down the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever owned and I love the support they offer. With how many miles we’ve put in this summer, I’m ready for a new pair and want the same shoe, but probably in this color way.

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I finished my bottle of my perfume and this is my all time favorite scent, so of course a new bottle is on the wish list!

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I love the color and size of this insulated cup!

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I have been a bit obsessed with William’s Kindle and love using it for the ARCs I receive. However, lately its not wanting to sync or connect with the internet, so I’d love a new one to fix that issue. The Kindle is the best way to read digital books in my opinion – much better than the Kindle app on my phone or iPad.

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What’s on your wish list these days?

Bookish

I saw Jana of JanaSays answer these questions today and thought it'd make a fun blog post! I've always loved reading, but seem to be back on a big book binge again recently.

1. It truly depends on my schedule and time of year, but lately I'd say about 15-20 hours?

2. I love both! I like the feel of a paper book in my hands best and the smell that accompanies books both old and new, but I love he convenience of an e-reader and the opportunity to read so many ARCs to review that an e-reader brings!

3. My two favorite genres are probably historical fiction and historical nonfiction. I love history and reading about different perspectives and events!

4. I'm not the biggest murder mystery fan, nor do I love many science fiction books, but love fantasy!

5. My biggest bookish pet peeve is when someone says they love a book you love and they can't talk about it; going from feeling like you've found a kindred spirit to not, is just disappointing.

6. My favorite thing about reading is the opportunity to learn something new and to connect with other readers who've read the book. Even if you never talk to them, knowing that someone else has read the same story is really fun.

7. My bookish confession is that I hate Catcher In the Rye. I think it's an awful book. Spoiler, but the fact that you get to the end and have no idea if any of what you just read is true is infuriating. I understand it and why it's a valuable tactic, I just strongly dislike it.

How would you answer these questions?

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday and last day of July!

This weekend started with a fun date night on Friday. Like I mentioned on Friday, my sweet mama-in-law sent me several dresses she found on sale. So, Friday I decided to wear one, fix my hair and put on makeup. When William got home from work he told me I looked too pretty to waste not going out, so we tried a new restaurant and bar that recently opened. I love that we can walk from our house to downtown, so we walked down to Union Whiskey for our date! William tried two different beers and a cider saison and I had a glass of moscato (way too sweet! I had ordered prosecco…) and a glass of a NY Pinot Noir. To eat we tried their Bavarian pretzel, loaded toys, and chicken fingers tossed in a maple sage sauce. All of the food was delicious and I enjoyed sitting on the patio, people watching and spending time with William. It also happened to be the day they were photographing the drinks and food for the website, so it was fun to see what we want to try in the future!

Saturday we went on the five and a half mile loop of the river trail before heading to a local maple farm for brunch. They make the best gluten free pancakes and maple sausage, not to mention how delicious their different maple syrups are. It's always so satisfying! After our morning adventures we just spent time at home relaxing and doing a bit of cleaning.

Sunday I slept in until 9 – oops! So, we didn't make it to church, nor did we go on our family walk because it got so warm yesterday. Instead, we did some more cleaning and relaxing and I read another book before settling in to watch the newest episode of Game of Thrones.

It was an easy, relaxing weekend full of good food and quality time together!

How was your weekend?

Friday Favorites

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Happy Friday friends! This week has had some cooler days that have provided a hint of autumn and it has me wishing for a bit longer of summer this year. Perhaps its because I know that this first New York winter will likely feel colder than the last 14 winters spent out west in Colorado, Montana and Idaho, or perhaps its because this summer has been spent moving and creating a new home, but I'm just not ready to begin saying goodbye to summer 2017 just yet. Luckily, school in this part of the world doesn't begin until after Labor Day, so with kids still running around the neighborhood and not preparing for school yet, it still feels like summer in our world. I am however ready for football season!

My first favorite of the week is the Netflix documentary series Last Chance U. I am already anxiously awaiting the annual HBO documentary series Hard Knocks and this one is holding me over until then. We are almost done with season two and I am really enjoying it. I adore Brittany Wagner and want her job. I feel like I would excel in a position like that and am now on the lookout for similar opportunities around here. I loved the coach in season two from Coahola – such a positive and uplifting man coaching a team with a losing record. I loved how that episode shared more of his team's experience leading up to the game against EMCC because they felt like a more "normal" community college program compared to the team the show follows. I enjoy seeing the student athletes realize that simply being good on the field won't be enough – they need to show up in the classroom too. I love seeing the kids who were at D1 schools and made a mistake, realize they need to work twice as hard to get back to that level of play and show real repentance for their choices. If you haven't watched this show yet, I recommend giving it a try!

My sweet mama-in-law sent me some new dresses that she found on clearance from Belk and Cato and I love them! I'm wearing one that feels so light and beachy today and can't wait to wear the others in the coming weeks.

William ordered us some monogrammed journals from Shinola and I'm enjoying putting pen to paper with my thoughts. I always keep a devotional journal to capture thoughts as I'm reading scripture or following a devotional, but journaling again feels good. I had gotten away from the practice in college when I started my first blog, but there is something restoring about writing my thoughts and prayers and reflections by hand.

What are your favorites this week?