What I Read Wednesday {November and December Reads}

Hey y'all,

In 2018 I did not complete my Goodreads goal as I finished up only 52/55 books. Next week I will be sharing my top 5 favorite books of the year but today, I thought I would go back and share what I read in November and December. I am going to apologize in advance for the length but I hope this helps you to add a few books to your to-read list in 2019.

November

Circe


CirceIn the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.


I really enjoy Greek mythology and had not read much on Circe apart from the Odyssey. I grabbed this as an audio book from the library and enjoyed the book but it wasn't a favorite. There isn't a ton of action but I enjoy stories of the Greek pantheon. ***/5

Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not DatingHazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.
Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

I enjoyed this story of a quirky girl meeting a cute guy. Yes it was predictable but sometimes that's exactly what you need. There are some cringe worthy moments when you feel socially awkward for everyone in the story but a quick, fun read. ***/5

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 
Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

This was my book club's selection for November. I read the book series back in middle school and enjoyed them but it was harder to get into as an adult. I have watched the movie as well and they made some larger changes that I did not expect. ***/5

Landline

LandlineGeorgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...


This was my book club's selection in February and I did not get around to reading it as I could not attend the meeting until November. It was an interesting concept and a great audiobook. I wish there was more of a resolution though at the ending--seriously, an epilogue is nice here and there. ****/5

Nothing to Prove


Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So HardAll too many of us struggle under the weight of life, convinced we need to work harder to prove to ourselves, to others, and to God that we are good enough, smart enough, and spiritual enough to do the things we believe we should.

As you wade into the refreshing truth of the more-than-enough life Jesus offers, you'll experience the joyous freedom that comes to those who are determined to discover what God can do through a soul completely in love with Him.

I like Jennie Allen's style and that she read the audiobook version. There were some really thought provoking moments in the book that helped me go deeper in the word. ***.5/5

Rush


RushWhen Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it's all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.
Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali's chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she's hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.
For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.


As a sorority alumna from a large, public school in the South I really enjoyed this book. It was a great story of change and self examination. I felt the characters were genuine and this could have played out in real life. ****/5

December

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was GoneTHEN
She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a cafĂ© and sweeps Laurel off her feet. 
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. 
Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away. 
Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 
What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 
Who still has secrets to hide?

This was an audiobook I grabbed since I love a good thriller. While I did figure out a lot of the plot before it's reveal I enjoyed the book and would recommend it if you are a fan of the thriller genre. It doesn't hurt that it is set in England and involves a dashing American, Floyd. ****/5

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious LifeJen Hatmaker believes backbone is the birthright of every woman. Women have been demonstrating resiliency and resolve since forever. They have incredibly strong shoulders to bear loss, hope, grief, and vision. She laughs at the days to come is how the ancient wisdom writings put it.
But somehow women have gotten the message that pain and failure mean they must be doing things wrong, that they messed up the rules or tricks for a seamless life. As it turns out, every last woman faces confusion and loss, missteps and catastrophic malfunctions, no matter how much she is doing “right.” Struggle doesn’t mean they’re weak; it means they’re alive.

I enjoyed this book as an audiobook. I don't think it is groundbreaking and I didn't feel like it challenged me but was a reminder that we all struggle. ***/5

One Day in December

One Day in DecemberTwo people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic... and then her bus drives away.
Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

This book was cute but way to predictable for me. I wasn't in love with the characters or their actions. It is similar to a lot of missed chance romance books **.5/5

What are you currently reading?

Best,
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Weekending {January 18-20}

Hey y'all,

I am going to try to get back to blogging every week but no promises. I thought I would share a snapshot into my weekend as these are some of my favorite posts to read.

Friday

Friday was a pretty calm day at work which was nice after a busy start to the week. I was able to get home before 5pm, started a load of laundry, rearranged some furniture from my bedroom to my living room and then headed out to meet my friend Shelby for dinner.
We went to Diced, a local chopped salad place. It was Shelby's first time to Diced and she really liked it. I often order salads ahead to be picked up for lazy, healthy dinners. After dinner we went to Hobby Lobby and Target to wander and look at home decor. I have a black metal tray in my kitchen area that I wanted to decorate to match my place as when I bought it in Fall I decorated it for Halloween and then Christmas and now I wanted more neutral decor.
This is after our shopping trip
After shopping, we grabbed Menchie's where I got the almond milk dark chocolate and the dole whip sorbet. I think my favorite was the dole whip as I love pineapple with dark chocolate chips. We then went to Shelby's house to hang out for a bit and then I got home around 10pm and headed for bed as I knew I had an early start to Saturday.

Saturday

Saturday began with a rude 5:45am alarm as I was signed up for the 7:15am barre3 class and I am a multiple alarm person. I ended up getting to class with a few minutes to stretch. After barre3, I headed home, threw in another load of laundry and then cuddled with Max. Of course, 10 minutes before we had to leave for his vet appointment, he decided to climb under the bed so I had to drag him out and stuff him in his carrier.
His vet appointment went really well and we were home before 10:30am. The rest of the day involved me taking a nap, grabbing some lunch, laundry, cleaning, putting up the art I purchased on Friday night, and reading a bit. I ended up watching the Hallmark Winterfest movie, Winter Princess, while I was doing dishes and cleaning. It was a cute one.
Both prints including frames from Hobby Lobby for under $20 TOTAL!
6pm I headed over to babysit for two sweet little guys. We hung out playing and watching Octonauts, ate some pizza and applesauce, read books and then it was bedtime. I spent the rest of the night finishing my book and listening to more of my book club book on Audible.

Sunday

Sunday morning I headed to church. This year, our church is walking through Romans for the whole year. This was the third message if you want to listen here. After church, I headed to Aldi to pick up a few items.

I then baked some chocolate protein muffins for breakfasts this week, made a fruit salad, and vacuumed. I headed to the library to pick up five books from my holds that all arrived at the same time then scooted to barre3 for the 3:15pm class. It was a tough class and when I got home I immediately started a bubble bath with Epsom salt.
After my soak, I got back in the kitchen and made dinner and prepped a few things for dinners this week. I spent the rest of the night just relaxing, watching MIB (throwback I know) and working on my BSF homework for tonight's study meeting.

How was your weekend?
Link up with Lindsay, Heather, Johannah, and Tanya.

Best,
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Tuning In {My Current Favorite Podcasts}

Hey y'all,

It has been a crazy few weeks between holiday gatherings, getting back home, a cold, and getting back to my routine which this week includes something every night of the week after work. Lately, I have been able to get a lot of podcast listening in while working as my projects have been more data input focused. I love a nice easy to listen to podcast while I plug away on emails, projects, and other work. Here are five that I am currently loving and if you want to share some recommendations, I would love that!

What Should I Read Next?

Tuesdays. Anne Bogel of the Modern Mrs. Darcy hosts this hour show. Each episode is with another reader and I highly recommend listening with GoodReads open as you will add a few books to your list. Anne's blog also posts a list of all the books discussed in each episode if you need to glance back. Anne serves as matchmaker to each guest based on books they loved, they hated, and what they are currently reading. If you love hearing about books add this to your list.

The Dave Ramsey Show

Monday-Friday. This is the audio version of Dave Ramsey's daily show which you can watch on Youtube or listen to on the radio. I loosely follow Dave Ramsey's plans and will be out of debt (minus my new car) this year. I love listening to the stories of those that have gotten out of debt and all the various questions listeners call in to. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, will have a new podcast out January 21st and I am excited to add her podcast to the list.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Wednesdays. Jamie Ivey has amazing conversations with various women discussing faith, failure, successes, family, etc. Her gift guide this Christmas was amazing and I love her style. You feel like you are hanging out with her in her backyard with a cup of tea and being encouraged weekly.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Wednesdays. This is a podcast hosted by one of my favorites from the Fab5 of Queer Eye and spans a lot of various topics. It is Jonathan asking all the questions we would ask to an expert. From "What's it like being a woman in NASCAR?" to the Romanovs and Jodi Picoult's selection of tough topics. These are fun and educational episodes and Jonathan is the same on the show as his is on Queer Eye so expect lots of darling and honeys.

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

Mondays and Thursdays. Annie Downs was my first consistent podcast. I love her personality and it is an hour listening to her chat with a friend and you feel like you are all just sitting down having coffee or tea. Topics range from music, faith, broadway, sports, food, and writing. She is also who introduced the enneagram to me and I'm loving the recent topic change to discussing disciplining the next generation.

I also listen to How I Built This with Guy Raz (entrepreneurs share how they built their business), Girls Night with Stephanie May Wilson, the Feel Good Effect, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, and finished Up and Vanished.

What are you listening to?

Best,
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Five on Friday {December 14}

Hey y'all,

I cannot believe that we are halfway through December and I know the rest of the year will fly by. I am excited this weekend will be filled with some barre3 classes, babysitting a little one, attending a party, book club and supper club. I promise I also booked some quiet me time for this introvert into the weekend. Let's get started on five things I'm loving this week:

one. Seasonal Celebration.

On Saturday, my work hosted their Seasonal Celebration. As I joined the company back in June, this was my first Seasonal and it was a lot of fun. It was an amazing dinner, a funny video recap of the year, and a great way to celebrate the company and all of our hard work.

two. Snow Days.

North Carolina surprisingly got a lot of snow this weekend. I didn't sleep the best after the seasonal as I knew snow was forecasted. I was up at 2am and saw the snow had started to fall and by 7am it was everywhere. I had a nice quiet snowy Sunday with lots of Hallmark, Max cuddles, and a nap on the couch.

three. Whole30 prep.

I am going to complete a Whole30 soon (December 27-January 26) and while most people start January 1 I am starting a few days early to account for reintroduction a few days before my birthday! I checked out a few books from the library recently to help get some meal and recipe inspiration. I actually made a meal out of the Whole30 SlowCooker cookbook last night when a friend came over for dinner.


four. Hot Cocoa Cafe.

This little cafe is too cute and a cat scratcher too. It's under $20 at Target and Max is loving his Christmas present. They also make a smaller toy workshop house as well.


five. Contentment Challenge from Nancy Ray.
I have heard a lot about the Contentment Challenge from Nancy Ray and I am excited to join her community in completing the challenge from January-March. I think it's the perfect way to start 2019 and being intentional. I am still working on my word of the year but a content, intentional life are all things I think we crave.
contentment challenge square_Instagram 1-1.jpg

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.
And Erika, Narci, and Andrea

Best,
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TBB Asks {December}

Y'all,

How is it already December 6th? I seriously can't believe there are only a few more weeks left in 2018. They are going to be pretty hectic with a lot of things going on at my job as it is one of our busiest times of the year with the end of the fiscal year. Also, socially it's a busy time with lots of parties, dinners, gatherings, and fun! Here's my answer's to the Blended Blog's monthly prompts, this month is all about the holidays.


1. Candy Canes? Yes or No
I'm not a huge peppermint person so no unless they are the Starburst candy canes.

2. Christmas morning early riser or sleep in? 
Early riser. I still have trouble sleeping on Christmas eve even though I'm in my late 20s and I am typically up by 5am. My parent's rule though is that we are not allowed out of our rooms until 6am and at that time we can only open our stockings. No presents until the parents are up at 9am.

3. Did you shop on Black Friday? Yes or No
Yes but only online. A few times we have gone out on Black Friday in the late afternoon/early evening when all the morning shoppers have left.

4. Christmas Tree up in November? Yes or No
Yes, but only after Thanksgiving. This year though, I broke my rule and put it up the weekend before Thanksgiving as I knew I would be traveling and wanted it up before December 1st.

5. Do you get Holiday ideas from Pinterest? Yes or No 
Sometimes but I mostly stick to the traditional stuff. I did find my hot chocolate recipe through pinterest and I have used that at my annual ornament exchange for a few years.

6. Christmas Glam or Ugly Sweater?
We glam it up for Christmas Eve service but that's the only really glam night typically for my family. I did attend a lot of Ugly Sweater parties in college as my sorority hosted one each year. This year, the alumni event was combined with the ugly sweater party. 


Here's me with two of the four active members of my family. 

7. Stocking Stuffers: Wrapped or Unwrapped?
Stockings are unwrapped but all other gifts are wrapped.

8. Traditional or Modern Christmas Songs?
Both. But no Christmas music until December 1st or I will be sick of them before Christmas even comes.

9. Fruitcake? Yes or No
No.

10. Is your Christmas Shopping Finished? Yes or No?
Yes. I was finished before Cyber Monday.

11. Is there Snow in December where you live? 
There is actually a good chance of snow this weekend here in NC. I am just hoping it doesn't snow like crazy Saturday night as I have my work holiday party that night and don't want to drive in the snow.

12. Classic Show: A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph? 
We watch both but are more Muppet Christmas Carol, White Christmas, the Santa Clause, and the Year Without a Santa Claus people.


Best,
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Wishlist Wednesday {My Christmas List}

Hey y'all,

With the Christmas season officially kicked off now that we have pasted Christmas, I thought I would share my Christmas list. Don't worry, I am the kind of person that had my Christmas list to my family before November so that everyone could enjoy some great sales this past week.

I lucked out that this Fall, I found my favorite cookware at Homegoods. I immediately called my Mom as this is her brand of cookware and grabbed a piece for her as well. So, I was reimbursed and I have been loving using my Christmas present already the last few weeks.
Image result for wmf cookware
I can't find my cookware but it is the same kind my Mom purchased in Germany when we lived there 15 years ago and her pans still look brand new.

NOOK GlowLight 3
I have a first generation nook simple touch that was not working in October when I arrived at the airport so I think it's time to upgrade.

J.Crew Mercantile quilted vest
j.crew mercantile quilted puffer vest with eco-friendly primaloft® : women fleece & vests
I live in these vests during the Fall and Winter and think this green color is gorgeous! I have an ivory, black, and pink vest already.

2019 Yearly Prayer Journal by Val Marie Paper, women's ministry, prayer tools, praying for your kids, how to start a prayer journal, notebook, war room, praying Scripture, praying for your husband, how to make a, for beginners, motherhood
I received the 2018 prayer journal for Christmas last year and I have loved using this prompted journal throughout the year to record prayers for the world, my community, my friends, and my gratitude.

I love Courtney's blog and all of her fun decor and party ideas so I think this would be a fun coffee table book.

product
I mean sloths+pajamas. Enough said.

Image result for bamboo bathtub caddy target
Perfect for relaxing in my epsom salt bath every Sunday after Barre3.

Other ideas:
An airmattress for guests
Crazy Rich Asians DVD
Invisiboble hair ties
Bubba plastic reusable straws

What's on your Christmas list?

Best,
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What I'm Reading Wednesday {October Reads}

Hey y'all,

As usual, I am sharing the books I finished in October. Even with a vacation with family, I only finished three books. They were all okay reads but nothing out of the ordinary. Here we go:

Her Royal Sypness

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #1)Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932.
So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg... She's gate-crashed a wedding... She's making money by secretly cleaning houses... And she's been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.
Everything seems to be going swimmingly until she finds a body in her bathtub... and someone is definitely trying to kill her.

This is the first of a series and which cute, I wasn't too impressed. If you love a good british spy novel, I say read the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig and skip these. I started the second book and returned it to the library as I wasn't loving it.

Trade Me

Trade Me (Cyclone, #1)Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.
To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.
But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

A classic rich boy, struggling girl romance but this book included a lot of different discussions on mental health and the struggles behind success. I enjoyed the book and I am interested to read the rest of the series.


Without Merit


Without MeritThe Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.
Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.
Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Another quick read from Colleen Hoover. I love that Colleen is not afraid to tackle some darker topics. I always know I am going to finish her books in under 3 days and I will cry at some point. Without Merit is revolves around a family and how keeping secrets could negatively effect someone to the point of attempting escape. 


Best,
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