My Reads::2016(Jan-Jun)

Well.  Here are my top 15 books so far this year.  Ok…really this is just the total I’ve read since January.  Some I loved and hope that you read them if they fall into your “type” of book, some I didn’t love and can’t really even remember what it was about (thank goodness for goodreads).

So here’s the run-down.


1. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker::I borrowed this from a friend, read the ‘thank-you notes’ sections and then it sat by my bed for quite a few months.  And then I finally finished it.  If you’ve heard of Jen Hatmaker, you’ve probably already read this book.  If you haven’t heard of her, look her up and start with this book (if only for the thank-you notes).  She makes me laugh and think.  And I love to do both.

2.  I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza:: And the award goes to the longest book title ever!  But Tony Danza is kind of known for having lots of words.  I loved this book so much that I wanted to give it to all of my children’s teachers.  (But then I read something about people going in and ‘rescuing’ kids in low-income schools, but I think that’s another discussion for another time.)  I really did enjoy this story.  He taught an English class for a year as part of a reality show, the cameras quit half way through the year, and he finished out the year.  That’s the basic premise.  His big take away–teaching is no joke.

3.  Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs::This is the first book that I’ve read by Annie Downs.  I’ve been listening to her podcast and she is such a joyful person that I had to read this and I wasn’t disappointed.  And I could almost hear her voice while I was reading.  Also, I’m a sucker for a great book cover!  If you like the non-fiction/self-improvement type of books, you’ll love this one.


1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson::I loved this story.  It is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.  Brown Girl Dreaming is written in free verse which may be off-putting if you first see it and haven’t read any books like this before.  But give it a chance–I do not love poetry (not a fan of the rhyming and allegory), but this type of poetry I kind of love.  Once you get into the story, it just flows and you feel as if you are reading a traditional style book. Woodson tells her own story of growing up in the 60s and 70s in the south and then New York City.  She writes of the difficulties of that time and of how she became a writer and she paints a wonderful picture with her beautiful words.  I just loved this entire book.


1.  Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham::I like John Grisham’s books.  But don’t ask me to remember what this one is specifically about.  I think I read this way back in January but unless they make it into a movie, I doubt I’ll ever remember what it is about.  And I’m sure if you like his books, you have already read it.

2.  The Martian by Andy Weir::The only criticism that I’ve heard about this book is that it is a little too science-y.  Luckily for me, I enjoy science!  This story–it was So good!  And even the ‘it was too much science people’ seem to like it. It was an adventure and it was funny and it was a page turner that I couldn’t put down.  And after telling my husband how much I loved the book, he went and rented the movie for us to watch.  And I fell asleep. #storyofmylife

3.  Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache Series::I have read the first three books in this series.  They are murder mysteries that all revolve around the small town of Three Pines in Canada.  There are at least 12 books in this series and I sort of feel bad for all of the people who die in this town!  But at the same time, the characters are so interesting and unique and the more I read the more I want to visit this place (even though people tend to die there).  The only critique that I have is the same I have for any book series–please please please! put the numbers on the spine of the book so I know which one I’m supposed to read next without relying on google!

4.  A Stolen Childhood by Casey Watson::My brother gave me this book for Christmas and so it has been a few months since I finished it.  And I don’t remember a bit of what it is about and so I looked it up on goodreads and it all came back to me.  It is based on a true story.  The author is a school counselor and she works with at-risk students.  The girl in the story lashes out at other students, has a habit of pulling her hair out so much that she has a bald spot, and is clearly needing help.  That all happens in the first chapter of the book.  It is an interesting story (not enough that I remembered it 6 months later, clearly) even if the content is hard to read at times.

5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer::Oh my word.  I know.  How dumb is this book?  It is a dystopian young adult novel (what book isn’t these day?) and the first time I heard about it I rolled my eyes and said–I’ll pass.  And then I heard about it again from another source.  And then a third source.  And everyone kept saying how they judged it harshly and ended up enjoying the story.  Fine.  So I read it.  And I liked it!  So now I will be reading the rest of the series.  Because of course it is a series.  Basically it is the Cinderella story but the twist is that Cinderella is a cyborg.  I know.  But.  If you like the dystopian genre at all, I recommend you read this one.

6.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn::You either hate this book or you think it is a really great book (even though the content is horrid).  I heard online these two differing viewpoints, repeatedly.  And then I asked my real life friends and those that read it said it was awful.  And I’d hate it.  And the movie is horribly twisted.  And so where does my mind go?  Does it run away?  Nope.  Gotta find out for myself.  And–I’m not in the group that hated this book.  But it is a messed up messed up story.  If you need someone to root for to enjoy a story, this book is not for you.  I always try to find a redeeming quality in any story or person–not happening in these characters.

7.  The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson::This is a four book series and I’m in the middle of the fourth book and I can’t wait to see how it ends.  Each book in this series is better than the last.  Andrew Peterson has created another world that I’ve heard compared to the genius of Narnia, The Shire and Hogwarts.  I am not saying he is on par with any of those other authors but, I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who loves fantasy stories and yet, I’m loving loving loving these books.  I can’t wait to read them to my children.  If you have children who love fantasy stories and you want stories that have underlying Christian themes, these books are for you.

To Sum Up:: 

Need a non-fiction book?  Read Looking for Lovely.

Need a great series?  Read The Wingfeather Saga.

Need a summer page-turner?  Read The Martian.

Need an out of the box award winner?  Read Brown Girl Dreaming.

What have you read and loved lately?


Read Watch Listen Follow

I was listening to the podcast Around the Table and they did an episode where they talked about what they have been reading, watching, listening and following…..uh, that’d make a fun blog post to start back up and let you know what’d I’d been up to lately.  Obviously besides listening to podcasts.

also.  my friend is getting married in 54 days and and her shower is in 19 days.  And she’s moving to Canada! So there’s stuff for that.


Ridding my house of fruit flies. I’m currently using something in the kitchen that states to Not use in the kitchen and not to use it where people are going to be living for the next four months.  But it was recommended by a friend and I’m desperate.

Mom Life….gifts and parties.


My baby started kindergarten.  So I’m helping out at the school a lot.


I decided to run a 10K.  Training for that….that’s in two weeks.  Ack!


And I’m doing a craft fair in the middle of October.  Because why not?

Oh and I got the exciting news that I’m going on a trip in April.  To Holland and Belgium!  You know what they have a lot of in Holland, right?  TULIPS!!!  And Belgium has reaaaaallllly good chocolate.  #dreamtrip

So life is full.  And good. It can get stressful…but today is a good day 🙂

Ok here we go–Read Watch Listen Follow.

Read:  Simply Tuesday and, hopefully, this afternoon Go Set a Watchman…I’m nervously excited to read it.  I just need to decide for myself if all the hype is hype or not.  Simply Tuesday is wonderful.  Emily Freeman has a way with words that I am in awe of.


“My part is not feeding five thousand men. My part is giving my lunch to Jesus.”

Watch:  I just finished Friday Night Lights on Netflix.  #timriggins  I was watching this series with my husband, but then I watched one episode while the kids were at school and the next thing I knew I was confessing to him that I was on the last episode (3 seasons later).  So ashamed not ashamed. Stuff gets in my head and during group prayer at Mom Life this morning, my friend prayed that we would have open hearts.  When she said Amen, I felt like we all needed to shout ‘Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!’.  So maybe I have issues.

Listen: so many podcasts.  A favorite:  Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz.

Follow:  Jess Connolly on Periscope and janeaustenhumor on instagram

What have you been doing?

Top Ten Books of 2015

top ten tuesday

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is easy–pick your ten favorite books from this year so far.  And is it insane that we’ve already blown through six months of the year 2015?!  I don’t even know how it is possible.  So.  If you ask me for 10 books that I’ve read this year, I’d probably stare blankly at you…thank goodness for goodreads!  After checking my list, this is what I realized.  While I haven’t read as many books as I did last year at this point, the books that I have read have been really good…for the most part. And I tried to put them in some sort of order but know that I gave all of these books 4 or 5 stars out of 5.

10.) Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple::We are reading this book for book club this month based on my recommendation.  It is quirky and fun and has a bit of a twist.  And the book cover is cool.

9.) Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandle::I love a good historical fiction novel.  This one is set in Mississippi in 1963 and is told from the view of a 9 year old girl.  She’s innocent and wise and I loved reading her story.

8.) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion::I read this book last month and still hope lots of people read it and will like Don Tillman, genetics professor, as much as I did.

7.) Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery::You’ve heard of Anne with an E, right?  But have you heard of Emily?  I hadn’t until right before Christmas and then had to have this trilogy.  I’m in the middle of the second book right now, but it is safe to say that Emily will be loved in this house for many years.

6.) The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen::Need a good book?  Ask a librarian.  It isn’t just a catchy saying.  I was told about this trilogy and read all three books as soon as I could get them.  (Tip:  If you’re checking them out from the library, put them all on hold at once.  It isn’t fun waiting after finishing that first book.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

5.) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr::This is another historical fiction story set in France during WWII.  It goes back and forth between two characters.  If you think you’ve read every possible WWII story, you’re wrong.  This one was interesting and was written beautifully.

4.) Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt:: Ok, I’m just going to go on record and say if Gary wrote it, I’ll read it.  This is the first of three books by his on this list and I have only three more to go.  He is a wonderful story-teller.

3.) Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom::This book should probably be in a category all on it’s own.  If you have problems with forgiveness or understanding God’s sovereignty….read this book if you haven’t already.  If you don’t have those problems, read this book anyway.  If you wake up every morning, you need to read this book.

2.) Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt::Historical fiction based on an event of which I’d never heard.  This book was the first that I read by Schmidt and it was not disappointing.

1.) Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt::Wonderful story.  I’d read it again right now and I can’t wait until my kids are a little older so they can read it, too.

Aren’t books wonderful?!  I love how they can transport you to places and times you haven’t experienced or may not have even heard about and make you feel empathy, joy, sorrow, love and excitement.

How would you rate the books you’ve read so far this year?

My Reads::May 2015

may 2015I’m a little behind, obviously, since June is almost over and I’m just getting around to the books I read in May.  I think it is normal for blogging to slow down in the summer but I promise that I’m still here!  I’m trying to enjoy what feels like a “last” in this season of life since when school starts up in the fall my baby will be going along with her brothers.  It is nice to just slow down, sleep in and not rush…isn’t that the definition of summer?

The books I read in May:

1. The Sound of My Voice by Jo Kadlecek::I bought this at a friend’s garage sale so that I’d have something to read in the car pick up line back when the boys were still in school.  It tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who moves to New York to be a writer/actor and the conflict that brings between her and her father.  It was an easy read and enjoyable.

2. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt::This was recommended to me by a librarian after I talked about how much I loved his other books (Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright).  I definitely enjoyed this one, but I still liked the other two that I’ve read better.  This book was a sequel of sorts to Wednesday Wars.  It was more of a spin-off story as it took a secondary character and expanded on his life.  If you’ve never read a book by Schmidt, you are missing out.  I’m an official fan of his writings.

3.  Night Road by Kristin Hannah::This book was our book club pick of the month.  It was an easy read and an interesting plot about twins in high school, a girl they both befriend, and then what happens to family after tragedy strikes.  The consensus of those at book club was that we were frustrated by the story and it was sad to see when people are unable to forgive and have no hope.  I usually enjoy Kristin Hannah’s books, although this one wasn’t my favorite.

4.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion::First things first…I feel as if I’m always misspelling this author’s name.  That is my only critique of this book.  I loved it.  It combined all of the aspects that I love–science, a love story, quirky characters.  The story is told from the perspective of a genetics professor who has decided to hunt for the perfect wife.  He has very scientific methods but when he meets Rosie she definitely skews his data.  She, obviously, isn’t the wife for him but she is looking for her biological father and that’s an experiment he can’t turn down.  What results is proof that dating is more about relationship and the heart than it is about data.  I loved this story.

So to sum up!

Least Favorite::The Sound of My Voice–but don’t turn it down if you’re looking for an easy read in Christian fiction.

Most Favorite::The Rosie Project–read it read it read it!!!

Any must-reads that you could recommend?

Top 10 or 11 Beach Reads

top ten tuesdayhosted by The Broke and the Bookish

The last time I did a Top Ten Tuesday was in February.  So yes.  It has been awhile.  This week’s list is ten books that would make a good beach read and/or ten that you want to read at the beach this summer.  So this will be a little mix….a few I’ve read and a few I want to read.  (although, not promising I will wait to be on a beach.  and, also, let the record show that reading on the beach would be better than reading anywhere else.  so really I could just pick ten books.   but anyway, I get the point and I think you do, too….and now I will get on with it.)

10. Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler–I haven’t read this book but I have it on loan at the library. It could be awhile so there’s a good chance I could end up reading this on the beach. I’ve heard it isn’t the same as Bossypants but as long as you don’t go in with those preconceptions, it is a good read. Well, duh, it is Amy Poehler.

9. Nobody’s Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle–I’ve read her other two memoirs about motherhood and marriage and loved them both. She’s hilarious and insightful. This one is about friendship and I can’t imagine how it could go wrong.

8. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple–This novel is written in letter/email/text form. The family is quirky and funny and I’ve not read a plot like it in quite some time. It is heartwarming but not so much so that you’ll be sobbing into the sand.

7.  Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan–I picked this book out of Modern Mrs Darcy’s summer reading list.  She says she had this book sent to her 3 or 4 times to read (sidenote:  what can I do to get people to send me books to read?) and she finally read it and wished she’d read it sooner.  A girl lives above a shop which she’s turns into a bakery on an island off the coast of England.  Um, yes please?!

6. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica–Also from MMD’s summer reading list.  It is described as Kate Middleton fan fiction.  I’m not sure there could be a more perfect beach read.

5. Paper Towns by John Green–If you haven’t read this yet and you like the YA genre, then what are you waiting for?  The movie comes out in July.  It is about kids on a road trip.  It is funny.  The end.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins–Another YA book.  This one is full of teenage love angst and it is set in Paris.  I wanted to go back to high school but in another country while reading this…..and who in their right mind really wants to go back to high school?  It was super entertaining.

3.Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham–I loved this book and thought maybe it was because I was just coming off of my Gilmore Girls netflix binge.  But then I saw the book on the summer beach reads table at Barnes & Noble….and if the professionals agree with me then surely I’m not wrong.

2.Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen–Because there needs to be one classic.  And because this is one of the few books that is good when reread.  And because.

1a.Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling–I read this a few summers ago.  It is hilarious.  She has another book coming out in September and I think it will be equally delightful.  (and she’s working on a children’s book with B.J. Novak, too!–if you haven’t read his book, The Book With No Pictures, go buy it and read it to the next child you see.  His/her parents might think you’re weird but the kid will love the book, I promise.)

1b.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpson–I just finished this book on a boat yesterday and had to add this to the list.  I wasn’t paying attention and am now sun burnt–that’s how absorbed in the story I became.  If that’s not a good recommendation for a beach read, I don’t know what is.

Name one book that you’ve read on a beach, that you are going to read on a beach, that is about the beach or that you’ve read and loved recently…..obviously, I’m not picky.

My Reads::April 2015

So April 2015.  It was kind of a full month.  My birthday month.  My daughter’s birthday month.  We spent a week in Michigan for a mini-vaca/attended my grandma’s memorial.  And so the books that I read?  They totaled two.  Two whopping books.  What happened?!  I will tell you……….

I got an iPhone for my birthday.  Major.  Time.  Suck.  That’s all.  That is the reason.

And I’m not sure May is going to be much better.  I am currently reading my third book and the month is almost over.  Although in all fairness, the book is 973 pages long.  So there’s that.

But back to April….here are the books that I read.  Again, all two of them.  In case you forgot.

april 2015Least Favorite:  I am the Messenger by Markus Szusak — He also wrote The Book Thief.  This book is Completely different but still enjoyable.  The story is centered around a guy who gets playing cards in the mail with addresses on them and he has to figure out how to “help” the people at these addresses.  A really intriguing story.  I liked it.  Had I read a third book, this probably would not have been my least favorite.

Most Favorite:  Little Bee by Chris Cleave — This was my book club book for this month.  It was told from the perspective of a young girl from Nigeria who is a refugee in Great Britain.  A really heart breaking story, but if you’ve known me for longer than 4 minutes, you’ll know that if the story has British characters, I’m probably going to like it.  And, of course, Little Bee is completely captivating.

That was easy! What did you read last month?

My Reads::March 2015

march 20153 great books, 3 ok books.  I love when I come across a book that I love and when that happens three times in one month.  Well, who could ask for more?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple….this book has popped up all over the place and I finally got a chance to read it.  And it was not a disappointment.  If you like books written in journal/letter form, you’ll love this one.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall…the story was told by a young girl and reminded me a bit of Scout from that one famous book.  Great story and I really enjoyed it.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt…this is the 2nd book by this author that I’ve read and I gave them both 5 stars.  I’m not reading another book of his.  Sometimes you just find an author that you love.  And I think I have.

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith…not bad stories, but just ok for me.

Most Favorite:  The Wednesday Wars (tough call, though!)

Least Favorite:  The Cuckoo’s Calling (sorry j.k. rowling!)

What did you read in March?  Any new favorite authors that you’d like to share?


My Reads::February 2015

feb 2015Last month was short even though it always feels like the longest month known to man in the history of ever.  However, I read a lot of good books so I survived.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom–saw the movie when I was younger but had never read the book.  It was wonderful.  Need some perspective on your life?  Feeling like you’re fighting to be grateful?  Read this book.

Atlantia by Ally Condie–read this for book club.  It is basically the story of Atlantis and The Little Mermaid.  It wasn’t a horrible story but it also wasn’t mind-blowing.  I felt ‘eh shoulder shrug’ about it when I finished.  How’s that for a rave review?

The False Prince, The Runaway King, The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen–a trilogy recommended to me by a couple of librarians.  And I loved it.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks–a story about a young woman during the 17th century in England and what happens to her small town when the plague hits.  This book has so many redeeming qualities….and then the end of the book came and I almost threw it across the room.  ugh.  I can’t stand bad endings.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr–this story follows a young blind girl who lives in nazi occupied Paris and a young boy who is a part of hitler youth.  I loved this book, too.

Least favorite:  Atlantia

Most favorite:  The Hiding Place

Did you read anything last month that you would recommend?

Top Ten Book Problems

top ten tuesday mediumhosted by The Broke and the Bookish

10.  I have a problem with Emma.  I can’t get through it.  I think I may need to try listening to it on audio.

9.  Unfortunately, I have a problem with audio books.  I can’t listen to books on audio and actually retain what I heard.

8.  I have a problem with ruffly pages.  I can’t handle ruffly pages.

7.  I have a problem with alphebetization.  Yes it is a word.  I can’t handle when books in a series are not in alphabetical order.  I mean.  My life doesn’t end, but my eye twitches when I see the books on my bookshelf.  I’m looking at you Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant.

6.  I have a problem with reading ahead.  I don’t like surprises.

5.  I have a problem with finishing books with ridiculous endings.  If I happen to read the ending and I find it to be dumb, I’m not wasting my time with the middle part.

4.  I have a problem with anger.  If I read an entire book and get to the ending and it makes me mad, I may throw the book.  So far, no family members have been injured.

3.  I have a problem with figuring out which book is first in a series.  WHY?! can’t they just number the books along with the clever little titles?!

2.  I have a problem when people don’t agree with me.  I love a book, I recommend it, and you either don’t read it or you think it is ‘just ok’.  sob.

1.  I have a problem with people talking to me while I’m reading.  Isn’t it obvious when someone is reading that they’re probably not going to carry on a conversation with you?  Alas, I’m usually always reading and my poor husband will say something to me and it will be a good five minutes later before I realize that he may have been talking to me.  This thrills him to no end.

Please share your book problems with me.  And please agree with me.  All book series should be properly alphabetized, right?

My Reads::January 2015

jan2015My reads from January:

Most Favorite:  Lizzie (followed closely by Emily and Attachments).

Least Favorite:  The Accident

1.  Emily of New Moon::My husband got me the Emily trilogy for Christmas.  Written by the same author who gave us Anne of Green Gables, this book was nothing less than I expected.  I can’t say if I like Emily or Anne more but I am looking forward to reading the next two books.

2.  Isla and the Happily Ever After::My favorite part of this book is Isla’s name.  The last in a trilogy and the first book, Anna and the French Kiss, was my favorite.  So there’s that.

3.  The Accident::A mystery/thriller with a twist at the end that I didn’t catch on to as quickly as I normally do.  A bit too long.  Not bad/not good…it was ok.

4.  Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy::Loved this story.  Based on true events.  Heartbreaking, real, historical fiction.  Read it.

5.  Attachments::A re-read for book club.  Laugh out loud funny.

I’m also going to start sharing some of my favorite blogs (thanks to Rachel for this great idea!).  I’ve been searching around for a new favorite blog since YHL stopped writing last year.  Still mourning that loss.  Not sure I have a favorite, but I do love blogs that post every day.

These three I check regularly.

The Sugar Box

Modern Mrs. Darcy

The Handmade Home