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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

On, you can set a reading goal for yourself for the year. In 2018, my goal was 50 books. I finished 53 books in 2018. Here are the 53 books I finished this year.

Part of this accomplishment was due to reading (or listening to) a bunch of audiobooks. I have found that I love listening to books and I can get a book done much more quickly this way. I will listen to books when I’m driving, waiting in the car, cooking dinner, doing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, running…and I like to listen to them fast! 2X is my speed (unless the person reading the book has a strong accent that is hard to follow).

For my 2019 goal, I am sticking with 50 books. I have a bunch of books on my hold lists already and I can’t wait to dive in. My first couple books are going to be long ones, so it won’t look like much progress is being made at first.

What is your Goodreads reading goal for 2019 or what would it be if you were to make one? Are there any books you are anxiously waiting to read in 2019?

Books I Wanted to Love, But Didn’t

Books I Wanted to Love, But Didn’t

I’ve been trying to find more time to read over the last year or so. It helps me keep my sanity and I love getting lost in a book. I also really love recommending books to friends and fellow love-to-readers. These three just didn’t do anything special for me. You may love them, but they weren’t at the top of my list.


The Woman in Cabin 10 was one of those books that I saw all over the place. People were talking about it and loved it. I was deep into my most recent painting spree and decided I’d give it a listen. Here’s what the book is about.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

Lo wasn’t an overly likeable character in my mind. I thought the writing was ok (and I might look into her other book(s) one day, but this book felt like it just dragged on and on. There were a lot of twists and turns and I honestly can’t pinpoint why I didn’t like this book. There just wasn’t anything overly compelling about it to me. Maybe the whole set at sea thing was unique or a big draw for people. I just didn’t feel like there was anything overly remarkable or worthy of recommending it to everyone I see like I have done with other books.


Present Over Perfect is a book I have heard so many people posting about and have loved every page of it. This was not the case for me. I have a few ideas why, but here’s what the book is about.

A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.

Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

I read another book by Shauna called Bread & Wine. I remember that I liked the book, so I was hopeful I would like other books by her. She is a Christian/religious author and I was a bit hesitant going into this because I wanted to love it, but not being religious myself, I wasn’t sure if it would be too preachy for my liking.

It was just ok. I felt like I “got it” after the first couple chapters. Be present over trying to make your life perfect. Seems obvious to me. After I understood the premise and where she was coming from, I just didn’t connect with the religious aspects of the book. I have many friends who LOVE this book and we are reading/studying it in a mom’s group that I am in (which I am the only non-religious person in the group that attends; I go for the friends and socialization for myself and Alex).

All I can say is that it didn’t resonate with me. I don’t feel like I’m the target market for this book. But I think the idea was a good one. Too many of us focus on being perfect in life or making sure everyone sees that you are perfect on the outside even if you are falling apart on the inside. Social media is a beast sometimes. But you may love it and if the description sounds good to you, read it!


Next up is Love Warrior. I liked Glennon’s other book, Carry On, Warrior and I was so excited to read this. She’s so real in the way she writes that makes you just want to be open and honest with everyone you come into contact with. Here’s a bit about this book.

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another—and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true—true to themselves and to each other.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

I wanted to love this. And I don’t know why I didn’t. She was a strong female, she found herself during this book, but she just seemed kind of whiny about everything throughout the book. She struggled with being happy in her marriage and I just felt like she had given up at times and didn’t really fight for her kids and family. I think it had a good ending. It wasn’t fixed (which things aren’t always “fixed” by the end of a book, but there were things in place to help them through. Knowing now what I found out about her life shortly after I finished this book (she fell in love with soccer player Abby Wambach), many of the steps they took and issues she had in the book made more sense. I felt myself saying “duh” or “of course…this all makes sense now” after the news came out.

I am happy that she is happy and it seems that her family is happy as well. They have found a way to exist together. I would definitely read her next book if it was about how all of this transpired and how her family found a new normal. If you like Glennon, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

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Finally, we have The Grownup. I’ve enjoyed Gillian’s other books and when I saw this was free at the library kindle at the time, I read it. It is a short story and it was different than the other things she wrote. Here’s a bit about it.

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

I believe the reason I didn’t love this is because I thought it ended much too soon. I wanted to know more about the characters and what happened after the ending. It was a bit abrupt (“I only have this many words and must finish this book NOW” feeling) and I felt like it ended strangely. Maybe it was supposed to be that way. I just wasn’t sure if it was actually the end. I felt like there had to be more to it. It was a bit creepy and weird, just her style. If you like Flynn’s books, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s a really quick read.

So there you have it friends. A bunch of so-so books in my mind. I didn’t feel like I wanted to write individual posts for any of them. This seemed like a good compromise.

Happy reading.


Lizzy Charles Books

Lizzy Charles Books

A fairly short time ago I met this wonderful lady, Lizzy. When I met her, I knew instantly that I wanted to be friends with her. We started chatting and soon started hanging out. When I found out she was an author, I immediately went online to purchase all of her books. Funny thing, I already had 2/3 on my kindle and didn’t realize it. I have now finished all three of her books (she’s currently working on a fourth) and I have loved them all!

A bit about each of her books is below.

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EFFORTLESS WITH YOU is the story of Lucy, a girl who needs an attitude adjustment, and Justin, the boy who just might give it to her.

School is out and Lucy is ready for the perfect summer: lazy days at the pool, invitations to the most exclusive parties, and romantic dates with her hot new boyfriend. That is, until she lands in trouble one too many times and her parents issue the ultimate punishment: a summer job. Suddenly, the summer can’t end fast enough.

To make matters worse, the job is painting houses with Justin, the most popular, egotistical guy in school. Spending all summer with Justin might be other girls’ dreams, but definitely not Lucy’s. After all, Justin is cocky, annoying, and a jerk. So what if he’s the most beautiful jerk Lucy’s ever seen? Or that his grin makes her forget she’s mad at the world? Or that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to Justin than everyone thinks. Only one thing is certain: it won’t be the summer she wanted, but it might be exactly the one she needs.

I am not usually one who likes young adult reads, but this one stole my heart. It was such a sweet, realistic story. An unlikely couple added such a fun spin on the story. Justin and Lucy’s banter was great and I could picture them throughout the book. I liked that they had ups and downs (they are in high school, so their relationship is bound to have some imperfect times). The character’s families were likable and I think it’s challenging to connect even with small characters.

After I finished this book, I immediately picked up the sequel to see how Justin and Lucy would handle the next challenges thrown at them.


Popularity isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Justin Marshall knows this better than most. For the captain of the basketball team, small business owner, and son of Minnesota’s next governor, life can get pretty overwhelming. But Justin can handle anything as long as he has Lucy, the girl who fell for the man he’s trying to be.

But for Justin and Lucy, finding time together proves challenging. Stolen kisses and whispered promises just aren’t enough. That is, until scandalous photos of the couple are leaked to a press intent on creating a juicy scandal during Justin’s dad’s gubernatorial campaign. And when Lucy becomes fair play for the tabloids and gossip pages, Justin does the only thing he can to protect her: he breaks her heart.

For Lucy, junior year is everything she hoped it would be: new friends, second chances, and a boyfriend she can’t stop kissing. That is, until the boy she’s pretty sure she loves chooses the life his family wants for him, over her.

Now it’s up to Lucy to teach him what it really means to have everything. Because for Justin, being who everyone needs him to be just might cost him the one person he can’t live without.

This duet, Perfectly Messy, picked up where the last one left off and it did it seamlessly. Lizzy did such a great job reminding us why we loved these characters from the first book. I loved reading all the new twists and turns these kids got into again. High schoolers are so dramatic at times.

I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, but I liked that Lizzy didn’t leave us hanging too much or asking too many questions about their future. I like when a book wraps up nicely and leaves me satisfied with the ending.


Everything is waiting in Paris for Autumn—her new home, her mom, the Louvre, and a life where she can experience art, and not just look at it. But to get there, she’ll have to survive the summer in the least colorful place she can imagine — her father’s Oklahoma cattle ranch.

Autumn finds the perfect summer distraction in Colt, the one cowboy hotter than the July sun. But Colt is her father’s ranch hand, and he won’t go for the Manhattan-style fling that she’s used to. The closer they become, the more she questions which side of the ocean she belongs.

Then her father reveals an unforgivable secret, and Autumn’s illusions shatter. Will the secret destroy everything? Or could Oklahoma hold the greatest masterpiece of all—a love that could mend her heart?

I literally finished Bring the Rain this morning. I couldn’t fall back asleep this morning and I was dying to know what would happen, so I opened up my Kindle and waited for Lizzy to draw me in again. I flew through this book and I’m not surprised. Lizzy has a way of drawing you into her books and really feeling like you are there. She makes you connect with the characters in a way that you almost feel like you know them.

Autumn was almost a little unlikable at first with her New York attitude. But the ranch put her in her place and reminded her of the things she loved about it when she lived there.

This was a touching story and I loved the way she wrote about touchy subjects in a way that could prompt a good discussion with young adult teens. Ultimately, I loved that Autumn realized that she did need her parents in different ways and was able to decide what was right for her. Not all teens get that opportunity, but this was a case where I think it worked out for the situation.

Lizzy isn’t just a great friend of mine, but I respect her as an author and love her work. She wears so many hats at home, juggles a career and still finds time to entertain her fans by doing something she loves.

I highly recommend you check out her books if you’re looking for a fun read that will make you want to have a coffee date with the author (or hang out at the gym which is our typical hangout).

Happy reading, friends!


It’s Okay to Laugh

It’s Okay to Laugh

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This book was downright amazing. Here’s what the book is about; brace yourself.

comedy = tragedy + time/rosé

Twenty-seven-year-old Nora McInerny Purmort bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who once made Nora laugh so hard she pulled a muscle. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo. In the period that followed, Nora and Aaron packed fifty years of marriage into the three they got, spending their time on what really matters: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each other, and Beyoncé. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms. The obituary they wrote during Aaron’s hospice care revealing his true identity as Spider-Man touched the nation. With It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora puts a young, fresh twist on the subjects of mortality and resilience. What does it actually mean to live your “one wild and precious life” to the fullest? How can a joyful marriage contain more sickness than health? How do you keep going when life kicks you in the junk? In this deeply felt and deeply funny memoir, Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.

This book is for people who have been through some shit.

This is for people who aren’t sure if they’re saying or doing the right thing (you’re not, but nobody is). This is for people who had their life turned upside down and just learned to live that way. For people who have laughed at a funeral or cried in a grocery store. This is for everyone who wondered what exactly they’re supposed to be doing with their one wild and precious life. I don’t actually have the answer, but if you find out, will you text me?

It was funny, sad, emotional, real, heartbreaking, relatable and empowering. Nora is such an amazing writer. I listened to this book and I LOVED hearing her voice read the book. It impacted me way more than if I had read it with my own internal voice. Nora has a way of writing that makes you feel everything she says. I have been an avid follower of her on social media and her podcast. Her philanthropy is inspiring and her resilience to what life has handed her is so admirable while being humorous.

To top this off, she is the sister of the woman I wrote about yesterday!

I highly recommend this book. Be prepared to be a little depressed, but rest assured, you’ll also get some good laughs in, too.


Interactive Project Management

Interactive Project Management

Around a year ago, I went to a Geekettes meeting. One of the speakers was Meghan McInerny. She was funny and honest and real and someone I wanted to connect with. After 9 months or so, I got up the courage to email her and she agreed to let me come to her office at Clockwork. It was so kind of her to meet with me. She gave me some great suggestions and tips on re-entering the workforce. She also suggested a book for me to read (which I will write about soon) to help me figure out my strengths.

Before I met with her, I knew I needed to read her book (and get it signed when I went to see her). There was something about the book that resonated with me. I don’t know if it was the style in which it was written, the fact that I have a girl-crush on Meghan or just that I was in love with their ideas and descriptions of project management. Either way, I loved this book.


I didn’t know a whole lot about project management before reading this book. I knew it sounded like a fun job in theory, but didn’t really know WHAT a project manager did. One of the aspects that really stood out to me in their book was how project managers needed to figure out a way to deal with each person on the team individually. They pointed out that these are real people, with real issues/strengths/feelings and it’s important to remember this and be aware of it. They talked about how to work with various types of people to get them to work well in a team or group.

Of course, there were many other key points, but I have always felt like a people person, or at least a very social (read: chatty) person and I was drawn to this job requiring some people skills.

I loved this book and will probably read it again or at least reference it when I am going to start interviewing for jobs or thinking more about what I could do with myself.

If you have interest in project management, I recommend this book. It was an easy read and something you could use for certain areas of reference if you are already in the field.

Happy reading.


Love Warrior

Love Warrior

I read the book Love Warrior a while back. I read Glennon’s other book a few years ago and enjoyed it. This one I really wanted to love, but found it kind of forgettable. Here’s a bit about the book.

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another – and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true―true to themselves and to each other.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

I don’t really know why I didn’t fall in love with this book. She tells a good story and her life is far from boring. But it just didn’t stick with me. I think I maybe felt like parts were kind of far-fetched maybe. It didn’t feel believable at times for me.

I would like to read a new book if she comes out with one about her new relationship with a woman and how that has changed and impacted her lives and how she came to the realization that this was what she wanted after things has seemingly become ok with her husband again. I think that would make an interesting story.

I do love how open and honest she is in her writing and how consistently transparent she can be.

Have you read any of Glennon’s books? What did you think about them? Would you be interested in reading another book by her with some controversial (which they really shouldn’t be controversial) topics?

Happy reading, friends.


Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob

I read Defending Jacob at the recommendation of a friend of mine. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Here’s a bit about the book:

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life: his wife, Laurie, and their teenage son, Jacob.

Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.

Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family.

It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.

How far would you go?

This book was amazing. It was filled with twists and kept me on the edge of my seat. I really don’t want to say too much because I might give something away. But OMG. Go read this and report back to me with your thoughts!

Happy reading!

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train


The Girl on the Train was one creepy book.  Here’s a summary of the book:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I thought it was creepy because of all the strange things that happen and how she wasn’t able to put anything together correctly or remember things because of her blackouts. I don’t want to give too much away, but this book was just weird and creepy.

I read this quite a while ago and I have been meaning to watch the movie because I am curious to see how the movie shows the characters and if the movie feels as weird as the book did. I found it a little challenging to really be drawn into the book at the beginning, but I am really glad I finished it. It turned out to have some exciting twists and had a good ending.

This was a best seller and I saw it EVERYWHERE that people were reading it. Did you jump on that train (see what I did there?) and read it, too? Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Happy reading!


Me Before You

Me Before You


I read Me Before You last May right before the movie came out. A bunch of friends (mostly book club ladies) went to dinner then out to see the movie shortly after it was out in theaters.  Here’s a bit about the book:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

This was a really good book. It was funny and emotional. As is usually the case, the book was much better than the movie. A couple friends hadn’t read the book and loved the movie. But comparing it to the book, the movie left a lot of information out that I thought added a lot to the story.

I wish we had learned a little more about Will. The book focused more on Lou and her family and background. I think a lot could have been added to the story if we knew a bit more about Will, though. I thought Emilia Clarke did a great job in this role. I think Sam Claflin did a wonderful job portraying a disabled person. I can’t imagine that was an easy role to take on.

I was both surprised and not surprised by the ending. I think in general, this book had some controversies surrounding it. From what I have read, some people saw the book as implying disabled people don’t have a meaningful or fulfilling enough life. But reading the book it didn’t feel that way.  I have the sequel to this book (Me After You) on my to-read-one-day list. I’m curious to see where the author took the characters.

Have you read Me Before You or the sequel? Have you see the movie? What did you think about them?

Happy reading!


5 Years of Book Club

5 Years of Book Club

February marks 5 years that my little book club has been together. I'm pretty proud of this. It started with just a couple people and now there's quite a few members. Only a few are regulars, but I love that they have stuck it out with me. They were even around when I moved to Seattle and had a virtual book club for a while.

We've read a bunch of books (most of which I have mentioned somewhere on this blog) and we have had some wonderful conversations over the years. Thank you to all my book loving friends!!