Not gonna lie, I’m a little afraid to write this post. Last year was the first time I’ve ever put a clear list of goals “on paper” and I achieved exactly… ZERO!!
In my defense, last year was a year of the unexpected. How’s that joke go…? If you wanna make God laugh, tell Him your plans? Well, God was doing some serious belly laughing at me in 2019!
When 2019 started, we were something similar to empty-nesters. My oldest daughter was away at college, my youngest was living with her father in another county, and it was just my husband and me in an eerily silent home, figuring out life without any kids begging for our attention 20+ hours of the day.
By the end of 2019 we had six kids – Four of which were under four years of age and I honestly can’t remember the last time it was quiet here for more than 5 minutes except for nap and bedtime!!
In the “calm” before our home became something resembling a 24-hour daycare, I set up my recording studio in a closet under our stairs and began earnestly working on my audiobook career. After the youngest four of our tribe moved in, I found myself with more work than I could handle and keeping up with my blog was impossible! Plus, I just didn’t feel like it.
Even thinking about writing a blog post began causing anxiety attacks. So, for the sake of my mental health and the general well-being of everyone around me, my online life became close to non-existent while we were all adjusting to a new “normal.”
It took quite some time, but I’ve figured out how to continue narrating and producing audiobooks amidst the chaos. Every day brings at least three unexpected twists, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier…which, now that I’m thinking about it, is pretty freaking odd. I mean, I’m probably more stressed/worried on a regular basis, but in some ways I’m more calm and laidback and…well… Happy.
And that happiness has finally extended to a desire for my website as well. I’m feeling excited about connecting with other book lovers and sharing my life and thoughts with my online peeps again. Which is something I haven’t felt since I first started blogging a couple years ago.
But that’s not really the point of this post. The whole topic is supposed to be what I want to accomplish on my blog and combing through the pages of my TBR in 2020. Instead, I once again managed to create a whole other post within a post.
Here are my goals for 2020:
1. Read and review at least 52 books! I wasn’t able to get much reading accomplished last year. Even when I did, I didn’t have it in me to jump online and review them. But I pretty much transformed into a reading and knitting machine in the last month or so and I’m looking forward to continuing that throughout the year!
2. Post at least 5 times a week. I’ve managed to put together a blogging planner for January that includes a post every day except Sundays! Not sure if I’ll be able to keep up that level of planning and writing the entire year, but I feel like I’m off to a great start.
3. Reestablish links with other book bloggers. One of the best parts of talking about books online is that there are so many incredibly supportive people in the community. I’ve really missed that as my “real” life took me farther and farther away from my life online. I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone again!
4. Promote my audiobooks. So I’m pretty much the worst when it comes to self-promo and marketing. I don’t know if it’s because I hate talking about myself or that I worry too much about coming across as pushy or what, but everytime I think about mentioning I’ve narrated a new book, I literally get itchy! Like right now…my left arm feels like I’ve managed to get chicken pocks! Ugh.
Anyway, I plan on dedicating one post a week to talking about what I’m working on in my studio, what’s already out, and what I’m planning on doing next.
5. Giveaways!!! I only got to do one giveaway last year. It was so exciting and much more fun than I’d expected. I really want to do at least three in 2020, and more if possible!
So there you have it. My top 5 blogging/reading goals for the year 2020. What are your goals? If you’ve posted a 2020 goals post, leave me a link below so I can check them out!
Wow! It’s been a super long time since I’ve done one of these posts! Excited to get back into the swing of things though.
So… Happy Wednesday!!! 🎉 It’s time once again for WWW Wednesday ! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)
The three WWW questions are:
What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the unfinished record of Benjamin Franklinâ??s life written by Franklin himself and is one of the most influential examples of an autobiography ever written. Franklinâ??s account of his life is divided into four parts, reflecting the different periods at which he wrote them.
The first publication of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Part One, was published in Paris, in French in 1791. It wasn't until 1818 that the full version of Franklinâ??s autobiography was published by his grandson, William Temple Franklin, who did not include Part Four because he has previously traded away the original holograph of the Autobiography for a copy that contained only the first three parts. In addition, Franklinâ??s grandson felt free to make stylistic revisions to his grandfatherâ??s autobiography. W.T. Franklin's text was the standard version of the Autobiography for half a century, until John Bigelow purchased the original manuscript in France and in 1868 published the most reliable text that had yet appeared, including the first English publication of Part Four.
This edition of Autobiography of Ben Franklin comes from the original manuscript of Ben Franklinâ??s Memoirs and is presented in its entirety for enjoyment by all English speakers.
I’ve finally started reading through the Harvard Classics, which was a part of my 2019 reading goals. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the first book on the list. I’ve actually read this one a few times now, but taking the opportunity to read it again 1) because I love it so much and 2) because I feel like not reading it is cheating on my personal challenge to read all the Harvard Classics.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance Published byHarper on June 28, 2016 ISBN: 0062300547 Pages: 257 Goodreads Synopsis
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
I received an ARC of Appalachian Reckoning from WVU Press, but I’ve never read Hillbilly Elegy before. I figured to be fair, I should read this first. So far, I have very mixed feelings about it.
What I recently finished reading:
Reviews will be posted soon for most of these so I won’t be saying much here.
A list that has the names needed to take down the slave cartel that targets orphans. A list that’s impossible to find.
In an unfamiliar city, Imara attempts to secure the list, but her efforts are thwarted again and again by a man who grips Cairo with terror and control.
She joins a security team, hoping to save Cairo and her new boyfriend’s business all at the same time. With the team’s numbers dwindling more each day, they prepare for an upcoming event to attract new recruits to help them hunt down the list and stop the terror for good.
But then, their efforts get hijacked by an old threat and their problems multiply. Now, Imara faces a man who enslaves orphans and a woman who craves revenge. As the fight progresses, she’s forced to make an impossible choice:
The impossible true story about the powerful impact of prayer that inspired the major motion picture starring Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace, Dennis Haysbert, and Josh Lucas. Through the years and the struggles, when life seemed more about hurt and loss than hope and mercy, God was positioning the Smiths for something extraordinary--the death and resurrection of their son.
When Joyce Smith's fourteen-year-old son John fell through an icy Missouri lake one winter morning, she and her family had seemingly lost everything. At the hospital, John lay lifeless for more than sixty minutes. But Joyce was not ready to give up on her son. She mustered all her faith and strength into one force and cried out to God in a loud voice to save him.
Miraculously, her son's heart immediately started beating again.
In the coming days, John would defy every expert, every case history, and every scientific prediction. Sixteen days after falling through the ice and being clinically dead for an hour, he walked out of the hospital under his own power, completely healed.
Breakthrough is about a profound truth: prayer really does work. God uses it to remind us that He is always with us, and when we combine it with unshakable faith, nothing is impossible.
My name is Amy Able. I used to be just a scrawny geek...until that morning. I was in a daze, with no memory of recent events. Sunlight burned, I had fangs, and I hungered for blood. What happened? Why did I turn into a vampire?Then I got that call from my worried friends and the invite to go see the Lupia concert with them. I cautiously accepted, but it turned sour when I uncontrollably bit my best friend and a strange enemy, representing a group under the command of someone called "The Fool," attacked Lupia.By mastering my newfound strength and power over fire, I can fight back. I also have my uniquely talented friends-modern warlock Will Jadis and lovely sharpshooter Amelia Valentine-and together we can defend Lupia and our hometown from these vicious vampires, one of whom is that hulking beast from my past.To complicate matters further, mom and dad are missing, those jerk journalists won't leave me alone, and I still have to survive school, where I must now brave deadly sunlight and the continued stares of my classmates. What did I do to deserve this?
Because Blood on Fire is a book I’m currently working on for audiobook, I’ll be talking about it more later but won’t be writing an actual review. (However, if you’re interested in receiving a review copy of the audiobook, once available, then please contact me.)
A young girl dies mysteriously from what can only be explained as a rare illness. Her younger sister finds a diary in her room that has never been written in. Day by day the book reveals a new writing that urges the young girl to investigate the death. From encounters to the writings, there is a story to be heard, a mystery to be solved.
Because The Rose Diary is a book I’m currently working on for audiobook, I’ll be talking about it more later but won’t be writing an actual review. (However, if you’re interested in receiving a review copy of the audiobook, once available, then please contact me.)
With hundreds of thousands of copies sold, a Ron Howard movie in the works, and the rise of its author as a media personality, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has defined Appalachia for much of the nation. What about Hillbilly Elegy accounts for this explosion of interest during this period of political turmoil? Why have its ideas raised so much controversy? And how can debates about the book catalyze new, more inclusive political agendas for the region’s future?
Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia’s intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities.
In bestselling author Lauraine Snelling's new novel, a group of women realize that life is full of half-finished relationships and projects. However, they discover that the outcome is not as important as the journey.
Recognizing how common it is for crafters to start many projects and finish few, a group of women join together to form a guild--Unfinished Projects Anonymous to keep each other on track and accountable. Three friends are tasked with the job of home visits for their guild. They are laughingly called the Cartel as they do visits to snoop around craft rooms and knitting baskets to report on progress for the members. The guild has even expanded to checking on half-trained dogs and half-weeded gardens.
Over the course of the story, this ensemble of women discover that much of life is half-finished--relationships, the raising of children, even our very relationship with the Lord. And that may be perfectly fine.
Another blackout night...Myla drank too much. Again.Then she notices the bloody scratches on her leg.Panic sets in as scattered memories from the evening surface. The Persian guy, the Junkie girl. The streets of San Francisco are not friendly to teens with fake ID's. And especially harsh to arrogant girls like Myla, whose pastime consists of chasing complete abandon.Instantly, she knows something is wrong. Fatally, and irreversibly wrong. Nothing would ever be the same again....not after the wrath of The Lunatics.You'll love this Magic Realism adventure novel because everyone loves the freedom of breaking all the rules.Get it now.Seven N Blue is the winner of the Paris Book Festival for the Young Adult Fiction category. The Lunatics is book one of the series.Amazon Verified 5 Star ReviewHere's the deal with me... I buy a lot of books, read the first few chapters, ... and that's about it. To put it plain and simply, I get bored, really bored, really fast. Twilight, Hunger Games, The Notebook, to name a few. I truly thought I just didn't like reading.The Lunatics proved that to be wrong!!! I could not put it down!! I am a mother and wife, ... so that makes me pretty busy, but every "free" moment I had, I was reading The Lunatics on my little iPhone!!It is exciting from BEGINNING TO END!!! Otherwise, I wouldn't have finished it!!!!!Amazon Verified 5 Star Review: This is a world I wish I could inhabit. Myla is a free spirit with a highly creative imagination. I was totally taken with her in the first five pages when she "went off" at Christian Luna when he appeared to becoming on to her while a supposed girlfriend was standing nearby. Love the spunk.At the same time, there is a deep humanity of Myla that was very real. Her life was complicated, but you hang in with her and root for her to succeed, and triumph. A refreshing talent and a great read. Will look forward to more work from Seven N Blue.Amazon Verified 5 Star Review: While other YA books deliver a heaping serving of vampires, witches and warlocks - Blue has given us the answer to the age old question "how do crazy people lose their mind" Bravo! A page turning novel with characters that will leave you wanting for more. A little dark, sexy, w/ a side order of the SURREAL. Does anyone know if this is a series?Amazon Verified 5 Star Review: Vertigo spirals, alternate lives, a touch of magic, characters you wish you could meet in person! I've read a lot of YA, and i have to say that this is a fresh outlook on the "villan." Forget vampires, witches and warlocks. The grim reaper's got competition. Hooray for the Lunatics
I know, I disappeared after my steroid injection post, but they didn’t kill me or anything! (I’m actually going to get the second one today. Yikes!)
I am sorry for the radio silence over the last few weeks, we’ve just had a lot going on! Some was just personal stuff, but on top of that we started getting the house ready for a sibling group we thought we were going to get from foster care, but that fell through, and now we have a completely different placement…
So a lot of transitioning going on in my home! Which means a lot of randomness and sporadic posting here.
I do hope to at least get caught up on reviews and my other planned posts over the next couple weeks and then hopefully get back to normal and fully open up to review requests again soon!
In the meantime, I just wanted to pop in quickly to say hi! I’ve missed all my blogging world peeps! Hope all is well with you!!
We’re coming up on the end of 2018 and I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened this year…
My oldest daughter graduated from high school in May and went away to university in August.
My youngest daughter moved in with her father in August.
My husband and I had our first foster placement come into our home on December 1, 2017, and we said goodbye to them almost a year later, in November 2018. So I went from daily caring for 5 children in our home to 0, in what felt like overnight.
Throughout the year, my blood pressure continued to do what it does… go crazy high for no reason and make my husband (and sometimes the doctors) start preparing for my inevitable stroke.
And during all that, I thought the stress occurring both inside and outside our home was causing physical symptoms (my right arm would get weak, I couldn’t turn my head, a lot of pain). Last week, I found out that it’s not some sort of weird stress thing, it’s arthritis along with protrusions hitting my spinal nerves and cord. (We’ve already got a ton of medical bills so this was disturbing on multiple levels).
Basically, 2018 has been a crazy heavy year.
Friends, family and acquaintances are always asking how my husband and I are holding up. And while I really don’t mind them asking how we’re doing, my mom actually shared this with me on Facebook today, which I found hilarious…
I’m actually not sure which is funnier though… the above FB post, or what happened the day the foster kids left…
I have red, puffy eyes and am wiping my nose (so it’s obvious I’ve been crying), when my husband asks “Are you okay?”
I looked at him like he had 4 heads. “Did you just ask me that?”
“Uh, yeah. Are you okay?”
To which I responded with something like “No, I’m not okay. I’m not going to be okay for a really long time and if you ask me if I’m okay again, you’re not going to be okay either.”
Now, any normal man with self-preservation skills would have seen the “You can’t win here, walk away or I’m gonna murder kill you” look in my eyes and given up. But not my husband. He’s a fixer. After 6 years together, he still hasn’t figured out that there are some things that can’t be fixed and he has to just let me be upset for a while… so he says… “Yeah, I know, but I can I get you anything?”
A lot of violent responses went through my head at that moment…
Thankfully, I went with the only one that wouldn’t require bail money.
“A box of wine.”
“I was gonna go to the store anyway. I’ll get you a bottle while I’m out.”
“No, a box. I’ve decided to give alcoholism a try and it’s going to require an entire box of wine to get a good start at it.”
Something you should know at this point… I’m not really a drinker and haven’t been since I was in my 20’s. The box of wine comment has been a joke between my husband and I for years now. I never actually want a box of wine, nor could I drink a box of wine on my own, but ya’ll…
He got me a BOX of wine to drink with dinner that evening!!
While I didn’t turn to a box of wine, I did turn to the one thing I’ve always counted on to deal with the real world – the fictional world!
So here are the books I read in 2018 that helped me escape, laugh, cry, and deal with all the feelings of this past year:
(You can click the titles of books I’ve reviewed to read my complete thoughts)
Yeah, I know, some of you just rolled your eyes and others are scrolling on down to the next book on the list, but it’s true. I’ve poured over more scripture in the last year than I have during any other year of my life, and it’s definitely been the most beneficial book to help me get through the year. It’s easy to blame God and get angry when we hurt, but I learned a lot about suffering, love, acceptance, and how to grieve without falling down my normal rabbit hole of despair. I also did a lot of reading plans through the YouVersion bible app, which was great. I recommend checking them out!
Beneath the Same HeavenYou would think that as emotionally wrecked as this book left me I’d be upset that I chose 2018 to read it in, but no… I’m saying the opposite. Sometimes, escaping into a familiar world filled with pain, heartache, confusion, etc. of other people is just what the doctor ordered when you’re going through all that in your own life. Beneath the Same Heaven is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish everyone would read it!
This book was also incredibly emotional and had me crying so hard my husband tried to take it away from me! Seriously, I was an emotional mess the entire time I was reading it!
Edge of the Known Bus Line
Okay, you definitely have to have a certain kind of twisted humor to enjoy a book like this… Cannibalism, murder, cults – what’s not to find humorous, right?? Yeah, I probably laughed a little too much during this one, but it was needed. It’s a short and disturbing read that had me looking at the bus with fresh, slightly fearful eyes!
Just when you thought I only listed depressing, emotional, dark on this list, I give you… The Irrationalist! It’s comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. The main character, Adrien Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation into the murder of René Descartes and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end, but it had me laughing through the whole book. (Plus, it taught me the word defenestrate… which I threaten to do all the time now!)
Another lighter, happier book got me through 2018 was Mammoth. It’s a young adult book about a girl with dreams of becoming a paleontologist who’s hero turns out to be someone completely different from who she thought he was. It’s a super fun read!
So those are the books that helped me get through some tough times in 2018. What was 2018 like for you? Do you have a “go-to” book (or 10) for when you’re having a hard time? Let me know in the comments section below!
What if war separated you from your true love? What if you married the wrong man? What if the power of love brought you together again?
When Rosemary meets Albert it is instant chemistry. But it is also the summer of 1942, and scores of young men—Albert included—feel compelled to enlist to fight the war against Hitler. Albert wants to marry Rosemary before he leaves for Europe, but she just can’t commit. Like so many young women of her time, Rosemary finds herself left behind to work and worry, desperate for love but frightened of abandonment.
Three years later, and with Albert’s fate still unknown, Rosemary meets Harry, a charming and handsome man. Rosemary feels guilty for spending so much time with Harry, but she has all but lost faith that Albert will make it safely back home, especially when she receives news of her brother’s serious combat injury. Should she wait for Albert, or settle for second best?
Inspired by a true story, Rosemary in Bloom explores faith, forgiveness, enduring love against all odds, and the difficult decisions that strong, smart women on the home front had to make during World War II.
I’m not sure exactly what I expected from Rosemary in Bloom, but it was definitely better than I anticipated!
The story follows two young people, Rosemary and Albert, during World War II. Rosemary is 16 at the beginning of the story. She’s quit school to help provide for her family after her father has left for TB treatment and her sister has moved back in with her mom with her two kids during her divorce. Albert works with Rosemary at the glass factory in their town and the two meet during a war bond drive at a local dance hall.
Rosemary wants nothing more than to be in love and to be a normal girl, but the war makes that impossible. She has to work and ration the things she loves (like butter and nylons) and she’s scared to care for any of the young men her town because they all end up leaving for the war. When her brother joins the military and is so eager to go fight, she’s devastated.
I absolutely fell in love with Rosemary and Albert! They were so cute together!!! When Albert joined the military and left Rosemary, it broke my heart right along with her. But Rosemary made me angry too! I understood her heartache and worry, but it upset me how easily she let Harry sway her when he came around.
Before leaving, Albert had asked Rosemary to marry him and even though she didn’t give him a real answer, they both seemed to be believe that she would wait for him. And honestly, Harry didn’t strike me as the kind of guy you give up a man like Albert for!!
Harry isn’t serious about anything, and I get how during that time an attitude like that could be intoxicating for her. Still, Albert was clearly the better choice!!!
Then again…… Albert didn’t exactly do himself any favors either. He doesn’t write to Rosemary and she’s led to believe that he died. By the time she finds out the truth, Harry’s got his claws in her. The question is, will it all work out right in the end?
I think part of the reason I loved this story so much was because it reminds me of my grandmother’s own love story. She was reunited with her true love late in life and they spent many years together before he died. I couldn’t help but root for the same for Rosemary and Albert all through the entire book!
This was a wonderful love story that had me in both happy and sad tears.
What do you think? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!
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