A few things I'm loving these days

Monday, January 15, 2018
I follow quite a few bloggers that periodically share things they are loving, things that are making them happy. I love these types of lists. Does anyone else? I love that they give me a peek into some of my favorite blogger's personal lives and I almost always find something new to love myself. So, today, I'm sharing a few things I'm loving these days.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
I love goal setting and fresh starts, so January is always an exciting time for me. This year is no different. I've set five goals for myself this year, in the areas of reading, health, finances, home and journaling. I haven't gotten brave enough to publish all of those goals here, but maybe I will one day.

CHATBOOKS
My daughter recently ordered her first Chatbook, a book created from her photos and captions on Instagram. I fell in love with it and knew that I needed to order my own. I've already set up an account and have edited my first five books. They are being shipped as I type. I can't wait to get them in my hands and to continue ordering them as I post more on Instagram.

BLURB
I have been blogging (personally and publicly) for quite a while. I started as a way to keep in touch with my family and friends that are spread all over the country. I don't blog as often now, thanks to Instagram and Chatbooks, so I've thought about deleting my blog altogether. Yet, I can't imagine losing all of the journaling I've done over the past ten years. So, I've decided to take my blog and turn it into a book. Blurb, a company made to do such a thing, is helping me do so. I've already set up an account and have started my first book. It isn't quite as easy as Chatbooks. It's going to require quite a few more hours, but I know I am going to love the books when they are finally done and are in my hand. Once they are done, I may delete my personal blog. We will see.

MY READING JOURNAL
Last year was the first year I kept a reading journal and I loved it. It's been so fun to look back on all I read last year. I've decided to keep another reading journal this year. It is all set up and ready to go. One day I may share just what I record in my reading journal.

BOOKSTAGRAM
I joined the Bookstagram community just over a year ago and have absolutely loved it. I've met some beautiful people and have been introduced to some amazing books. I began to involve myself a bit more in the community over the past few months and hope to continue to do so in the future. It has only been good for my reading life.

#theunreadshelfproject2018

Monday, January 1, 2018
One of my reading goals this year is to read more books from my shelves, whether they be my physical shelves, the shelves on my Kindle or Nook, or the shelves on my Goodreads account. To help keep me accountable, I will be loosely joining in with #theunreadshelfproject2018 on Bookstagram and checking in here, on my blog, monthly to see how I am progressing with my goal. Here's how my shelves look today.

PHYSICAL (14)
Between Shades of Gray 
Salt to the Sea
The Alice Network
Reading People
The Chemistry of Calm
Jane and the Wandering Eye
Kristin Lavransdatter
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Gilead
A Share in Death
The Five Love Languages
How to Hug a Hedgehog
I am Malala
For Times of Trouble

KINDLE (11)
Brideshead Revisited
Whose Body
Cloud of Witness
Unnatural Death
Angelfall
Dangerous Crossing 
The Hazel Wood
Force of Nature 
The Cloister 
The Darkling Bride
I Was Anastasia 

NOOK (43)
An Old-Fashioned Girl
Behind a Mask
Jack and Jill
Jo's Boys
Moods 
Rose in Bloom
The Abbot's Ghost
The Mysterious Key and What it Opened
Barnaby Rudge
Bleak House
David Copperfield
Dombey and Son
Little Dorrit
Martin Chuzzlewit
Nicholas Nickleby
Our Mutual Friend
The Pickwick Papers
The Beautiful and the Damned
This Side of Paradise
Ruth
Sylvia's Lovers
Kilmeny and the Orchard
The Golden Road
The Story Girl
The Custom of the Country
The Fruit of the Tree
The Glimpses of the Moon
The Marne
The Reef
The Valley of Decision
Shirley
Moby Dick 
Pamela
Ivanhoe
Waverly
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Vanity Fair
War and Peace
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Man with Two Left Feet
A Timeless Romance Anthology - Mail Order Bride collection
Murder on the Orient Express 

GOODREADS (168)
The Book Thief
The Thorn Birds
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Jayber Crow
An Ember in Ashes
Shadow and Bone
The Once and Future King
The Wednesday Wars
The Beekeepers Apprentice
The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery
I Capture the Castle
Sense and Sensibility (The Austen Project #1)
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
Flight of the Sparrow
The Gilded Years
Dead Wake
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Amy Snow
Hannah Coulter
The Sea of Tranquility
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
The Girl in the Castle
The Time in Between
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber
The Eyre Affair
Gift from the Sea
Poison Study
Northanger Abbey (The Austen Project #2)
Emma (The Austen Project #3)
My Brilliant Friend
The Year of Living Danishly
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap
The Penderwicks
Honeymoon Hotel
The Night Circus
Home
Lila
Code Name Verity
The Marvels
Moon Over Manifest
Enchanted Islands
At Home in Mitford
The Sweetness of Forgetting
The Big Rock Candy Mountain
Into Thin Air
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper 
My Life in France
My Berlin Kitchen
The Professor and the Madman
Quartet in Autumn
The Muse
A Clearing in the Distance
Winter Solstice
Wolf Hall
Gods in Alabama
The Historian
The Winds of War
Team of Rivals
One True Loves
Atonement
The Tea Rose
The Night Watch
Night
Life After Life
A Wrinkle in Time
Saint Maybe
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Mindset
Walk on Earth a Stranger
The Anatomist's Wife
A Portrait of Emily Price
Grave Mercy
Death at La Fenice
A Study in Charlotte
A Beautiful Blue Death
Exit West
Flight of Dreams
From Doon with Death
The Coroner's Lunch
Raven Black
A Test of Wills
The Cater Street Hangman
The Crossing Places
Whispers Beyond the Veil
The Mangle Street Murders
The Kitchen House
First Impressions
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Americanah
Legendary
Another Day in the Death of America
The Essex Serpent
Caroline
The Other Alcott
Big Stone Gap
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Name of the Wind
Possession
The Atlas of Forgotten Places
Uncharted
Birds of a Feather
Deep Work
Daily Rituals
The Likeness
Lady Cop Makes Trouble
Loving Lucianna
Terms of Endearment
Three Wishes
Still Me
The Horse Dancer
The Dark Inquiry
A Perilous Undertaking
The Austen Escape
The Precious One
A Fall of Marigolds
Margarettown
Lady Crenshaw's Christmas
Origin
The Dollhouse
The Secret of the India Orchid
The Lady of Bolton Hill
The Fairest Beauty
The Silent Songbird
My Cousin Rachel
The Goose Girl
The Suspect's Daughter
Jane Austen's First Love
Prodigal Summer
Orphan Train
Dawn at Emberwilde
The Hearts We Mend
44 Scotland Street
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window
The Forgetting Time
The Sea House
A Conspiracy in Belgravia
Magpie Murders
The Secret Garden
Hum if You Don't Know the Words
Caleb's Crossing
For Darkness Shows the Stars
The Moonstone
The Day the Angels Fell
Six of Crows 
The Princess Bride
Rules of Murder
The Bear and the Nightingale
The Hate U Give
Eleanor Oliphant is Just Fine
The Mountain Between Us
This Must be the Place
Luck, Love and Lemon Pie
The Madwoman Upstairs
The Bean Trees
The Aviator's Wife
East of Eden 
In Dubious Battle
Britt Marie was Here
The Seven Sisters
Jane of Austin
Unequal Affections
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
A Wilder Rose
Everything I Never Told You
The Great Halifax Explosion
Emma in the Night
The Railway Children

2018 Reading Goals

I read 94 books in 2017. 94! I think that is amazing, but I'm also not happy with that number. There is nothing wrong with that number, but when I look over the actual books I read, I am disappointed to see so few classic books on that list, as well as so few works of nonfiction, two categories of books I love but seem to ignore when I am reading such a high quantity of books in a year. I want to read more of them both. I also want to read more from my shelves. With all of that in mind, here are my goals.

READ MORE CLASSIC LITERATURE

READ MORE NONFICTION


READ MORE FROM MY SHELVES (PHYSICAL/KINDLE/NOOK/GOODREADS)


How am I going to accomplish these goals? My plan is to choose one book for each of these three categories at the beginning of every month and then read them that month. Pretty simple. I typically read four to eight books a month, so I am hoping this leaves plenty of room every month for spontaneous reading, which I love.

Are you setting reading goals for 2018? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Favorite Books of 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017
I am excited to share my favorite books of 2017 with you. These are the books I loved. These are the books I couldn't put down. These are the books I am still thinking about today. Let's get to them, in no particular order. (I should note, these are my favorite books I read this year. They were not necessarily published this year.)

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
I read Lonesome Dove in January, almost a full year ago, and am still thinking about it today. It was such an intense ride. While reading it, I went through so many emotions. At times I found myself laughing out loud. At other times I found myself crying uncontrollably . Most often I found my heart absolutely racing. Such an incredible book. Do I recommend it? Yes, but with caveats. It's rough in places. Really rough. With that said, I personally gained such respect for those that lived in the west in the 1800's. I also gained such respect for Larry McMurtry. Such an amazing storyteller and writer. I never thought I'd enjoy a Western, but he made me do so.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I was introduced to Fredrik Backman's books just this year. I have only read three so far, but already Backman has become a favorite author. A Man Called Ove was my first of his and is still my favorite. I laughed. I cried. I loved it. Highly recommend.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing is such a powerful read. I still can't believe it is Yaa Gyasi's debut novel. The book tells the stories of half-sisters, Effia and Esi, born in Ghana in the 1700's, as well as the stories of their descendants, all seven generations of them. It is beautiful and difficult and inspiring.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow was one of those books that, immediately after finishing, I wanted to start over and read it again. In fact, immediately after finishing the copy I borrowed from the library, I bought my own copy, so I could do just that. I hope to reread it in 2018. I loved this book. The story and writing are equally beautiful.

Peace Like a Riverby Leif Enger
I finished Peace Like a River just a few days ago and my mind is still absorbed by it. I loved it. Yet, as much as I loved it, I am having a hard time describing it. Yes, it is a book about the strength of family during hardships and struggle. Yes, it is a book about miracles. Yes, it's beautiful. It is so, so much more though. Please read it.

2017 Runners Up

I plan on sharing my favorite books of 2017, but before I do, I thought I would share my runners up. These are the books I loved, but just didn't quite make it onto my favorites list. These books are so, so good, but I am not sure I will still be thinking about them five, ten, or twenty years from now. Who knows though! Anyway, in no particular order, here they are. (I should note, these are books I read this year. They were not necessarily published this year. All book covers are linked.)
A little Western with big heart.
Could be called an "important" book, but really it's simply a book about families.
An intense mystery full of twists and turns.

A magical world you will get lost in.
Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, but so much better.
The prose!
A mystery set during WWI in England, but so much more.

I've always loved Anne of Green Gables. Now I also love Emily of New Moon.
England, books, food and love. What more do you need?

A story of love, loss, weakness, strength, faith, perseverance and healing and it is beautiful.

What I've Been Reading - December 2017

Welcome to What I've Been Reading, where I share my (quick and personal) thoughts on what I've been reading this past month. For specifics (plot summary, etc.) about each book, click on the provided links or book images.

I read a lot this month! Due to how much I read, and how busy this season is, my shared thoughts this month will be shortened quite a bit. Happy reading!

Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery (5 stars)


I read the first book in this series, Emily of New Moon, last month and loved it. I loved these two books equally as well. If you love Anne of Green Gables and haven't read Emily of New Moon, please do.

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor (4 stars)

I love books based around war. This book was no exception.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry (4 stars)

This book was probably my favorite "fluffy" read this month. Based in England, it's full of quirky characters, books and heart. I recommend it.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz (2 stars)

Loved the cover. Hated the book. The names were right. That's about it. Jane Austen was nowhere to be found in this book.

Winter Street series by Elin Hilderbrand (3 stars)


Full of family drama and family love.

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie (3 stars)

No one does it better than Agatha Christie. Not my favorite book of hers, but still good.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman (3 stars)

Interesting novella from one of my new favorite authors.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (5 stars)

One of the best books I've read this year. I can't describe it. Just read it.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (4.5 stars)

A story of love, loss, weakness, strength, faith, perseverance and healing. It was beautiful.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (4 stars)

I really enjoyed The War That Saved My Life. The War I Finally Won is the follow up and I may have loved it even more.

A few things I'm loving these days

Friday, December 15, 2017
I follow quite a few bloggers that periodically share things they are loving, things that are making them happy. I love these types of lists. Does anyone else? I love that they give me a peek into some of my favorite blogger's personal lives and I almost always find something new to love myself. So, today, I'm sharing a few things I'm loving these days.

GOOD CHAPSTICK
Winter is definitely here and it is dry. I always forget just how dry winters are. My lips take the brunt of it and I seem to be constantly reaching for my chapstick. I have tried quite a few brands over the years, but I always come back to my favorite. It's simple and does its job.

GOOD LOTION
Have I mentioned it's dry here. Not only are my lips taking a beating, but my hands and feet and everything else are as well. Right now I am loving this lotion. Again, it's simple and does its job.

FUZZY SOCKS
I'm sure fuzzy socks are not new to anyone else, but this is my first winter wearing these type of socks and I am loving them. My favorite pair are these from Target. They keep my feet so warm, a must when most of our house has hardwood floors.

BLANKET SCARVES
Blanket scarves have been around for awhile now, but I am just discovering them for myself this year. I currently have my eye on this one from Amazon. These scarves truly keep me warm.

BROWN PAPER AND RED AND WHITE TWINE
I am busy wrapping gifts around here, and while I'm still using regular wrapping paper for most of my gifts, the really special gifts are being wrapped with this and this. I love the simple yet beautiful presentation this creates.

2017 MMD Reading Challenge - December edtion

Friday, December 1, 2017
I'm participating in MMD's Reading Challenge this year. (If you don't know what that is, click here and here.) Below are my December picks. (Book images are linked!)

READING FOR GROWTH: Stretch yourself in 2017

a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner

My pick

READING FOR FUN: Put the oomph back in your reading life

a book about a topic or subject you already love

My pick

What I've Been Reading - November 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017
Welcome to What I've Been Reading, where I share my (quick and personal) thoughts on what I've been reading this past month. For specifics (plot summary, etc.) about each book, click on the provided links.

I had hoped to read a little deeper this month (in comparison to last month) and I absolutely did. It was a great month for books.

Maisie Dobbsby Jacqueline Winspear (4 stars)
I am still reeling over this book. What a surprise! I'd had Maisie Dobbs on my TBR list for a long time, but was waiting for the right time to read it. I was waiting for the time I needed a fun, snappy mystery. Now was the time, but this was no fun, snappy mystery. What a deceiving cover! This book may not be fun or snappy, but it is pretty darn perfect. Maisie Dobbs is part mystery, part historical fiction, part jaunt into the world of psychological. It is a story-within-a-story, sensitive and full of wisdom, introducing a character so self-reliant, yet so vulnerable. I particularly loved the setting (pre and post WWI England) and the backstory. The ending was probably my favorite part of all, but I won't give it away! Let's just say, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series.

I had seen A Study in Scarlet all over Bookstagram and had to check it out. I am so glad I did. It was a lot of fun and so well done. How Sherry Thomas flips the sex of Sherlock Holmes is clever. Even more clever is how she weaves all the other Sherlock characters into her book. It's so good. I must admit, the beginning was a little rough for me. I am glad I pushed through though, because the beginning ended up being no indicator of what the rest of the book was like. Now, I can't wait to read the next in this series.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cakeby Amy E. Reichert (3.5 stars)
This book completely reminded me of You've Got Mail, but instead of a bookstore, a restaurant was involved. Since I adore You've Got Mail, I was sure to love The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. I did. It was a lot of fun. It was the perfect fluffy read. And the cover is delightful!

Angle of Reposeby Wallace Stegner (4 stars)
Wallace Stegner has decidedly become a favorite author of mine. In September, I read his book, Crossing to Safety, and loved it. This month I read his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Angle of Repose. I didn't love Angle of Repose quite as much as I loved Crossing to Safety. The writing was just as beautiful and the sense of place, storyline and characters were just as well developed. I believe where it fell short for me was in its actual characters. They were not very likeable. I don't have to have likeable characters, but I really like to. Anyway, I can't wait to get my hands on more Wallace Stegner. I may try Wendell Berry first though. I've been told I will love him if I love Wallace Stegner.

Little Fires Everywhereby Celeste Ng (4 stars)
It seems like everyone is talking about Little Fires Everywhere, so I knew I had to get my hands on it. I am glad I did. It was a great read. I can't say I loved it as everyone else has seemed to, but I really enjoyed it. It was a fast read that kept me turning the pages, trying to find out where the story was going. This was my first Celeste Ng novel. I am looking forward to going back and reading her debut novel and to seeing what she will write next.

Emily of New Moon (The Emily Books, Book 1)by L.M. Montgomery (5 stars)
How have I made it all these years without reading Emily of New Moon? I adore Anne of Green Gables and have read it countless times. Why I didn't think to see what else L.M. Montgomery had written is beyond me. Emily of New Moon was beautiful and funny and so relatable. It is the first in a series of three books. I've already started book two, Emily Climbs. I need to know what happens to Emily! The big question is...Emily or Anne? I think its too early to say, but I've loved Anne since I was a young child. She is going to be pretty hard to beat out.

A few things I'm loving these days

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
I follow quite a few bloggers that periodically share things they are loving, things that are making them happy. I love these types of lists. Does anyone else? I love that they give me a peek into some of my favorite blogger's personal lives and I almost always find something new to love myself. So, today, I'm sharing a few things I'm loving these days.

MY NEW BOOTIES

I have finally found the perfect pair of booties. I had been looking for two years! Yes, two years! I knew exactly what I wanted, but couldn't seem to find them. I wanted something classic, on trend, but not too trendy, that was real leather, so they would stand the test of time. I also wanted something that didn't have much of a heel, so I could wear them comfortably all day. Well, I finally found them and I couldn't be happier with them. (I sized up a half size which was perfect for my wider, high-arched feet.) 

ESSIE NAIL POLISH

This is my current favorite color.  I've been wearing it since September 1st. It is the perfect Fall/Winter color. I've got my eye on this color right now and might just have to pick it up today. I've never been a huge nail polish kind of girl. Mainly because it always seemed to go on terribly and then look terrible. On a whim one day, I picked up Essie nail polish because its specific color caught my eye. I quickly fell in love. It went on smoothly and looked great. Essie isn't terribly expensive, but compared to the $1 bottles of nail polish I usually bought, it felt like a splurge. It turned out to be a great splurge. Perhaps I just needed to buy a better quality nail polish all along! I'm sure there are other great brands out there, but for now, I'm all about Essie.

MY NEW WATER BOTTLE

I finally found the perfect water bottle. It took buying one too many imperfect water bottles to finally decide what I really wanted in one. I wanted a water bottle that would keep my water cold, wouldn't sweat, would fit in my car's cup holder and was dishwasher safe. This one has it all and isn't bad looking either.

MY LIBRARY

I have always loved my library, but this past week my love grew even more. It now has a shelf called "Too Hot To Hold". This is a shelf dedicated solely to books that are in high demand and have long wait lists. I've heard these types of shelves most often called "Lucky Day" shelves, because you may be #111 on a wait list for a specific book, yet one day you could walk into the library and find it sitting on the "Lucky Day" shelf, truly making it your lucky day. By the way, #111 is not a random number. That is my number on the wait list for a certain book at my library right now. I am hoping to have a lucky day here soon!

GOODREADS

I have been using Goodreads for a long time, but it hasn't been until this past year that I have really felt like I've been using it to its fullest potential. I use it to track what I've read, but where I really use it most is to track what I want to read next. I'm going to be sharing exactly how here on the blog soon, because I'm loving it so much!