I’ve read some really great books recently and can’t wait to share them with you! From an inspirational biography to what I’ll call a self-help book (that I didn’t know I needed!) to a good beach read, my recent reads have been great!
I’ve talked about my love of all books Elin Hilderbrand a time or two before and this book certainly didn’t disappoint. It sucked me in from the very beginning. It’s a story of a bride who lost her mother but was left behind a notebook pertaining to her future wedding. I smiled and cried my way through the entire book. The relationship intricacies among the four siblings, their father and step-mother, and her fiance and his family were so relatable to me even though those same relationships don’t exist in my life. I read this book in a matter of days. If you’re looking for a quick and easy read that ends well, run and get this book!
I’m perhaps the last woman in the world to read Girl, Wash Your Face and I have no idea what I was waiting on. I really purchased the book on a whim because everybody has been reading it, but had no clue how much I needed it. I tend to try to make myself believe I’ve got it all together, but reading this book made me realize I’m not alone in that. Fake it ’til you make it is great, but sometimes, you just need to see other women struggling with the same things.
This was another awesome book that spoke to me on so many levels. I’ve shared briefly about this book before, but it deserves another shout out. I’m fairly hard on myself in some aspects — and not necessarily the “right” aspects — and this book showed me the importance of giving myself grace. I can’t do it all or be it all. Sometimes the best thing is to just be and give myself grace. If you struggle with a Type A personality, I definitely recommend reading this book.
I really like Ainsley Earhardt. She grew up not too far from where I’m from and I’ve always enjoyed her interviews. I picked her book up and was startled at the similarities in her life and mine. It was so refreshing to read her story and gave me so much hope. I always like a good “feel good” book and even though this isn’t typically the type book I’d refer to as “feel good,” I couldn’t wait to finish it. Seeing how she has overcome obstacles and struggles in her professional and personal life was encouraging. I also loved how she shared how God worked things out for her at just the right times.
What are some good books you’ve read recently?
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I love to read. I particularly enjoy books that come out this time of year. There’s just something extra special about reading by the beach. We have a few trips planned this summer and I can’t wait to dive into these books!
I love, love, love Dorothea Benton Frank and can’t wait to read her newest novel, By Invitation Only. This book is about the differences between the haves and have nots, and from the looks of the reviews, it’s going to be awesome!
I discovered Elin Hilderbrand about two summers ago and can’t believe I waited that long to read her books. Since then, I’ve devoured nearly every book she’s written and can’t wait to read her newest novel, The Perfect Couple, when it comes out June 19. I also really want to go to Nantucket and visit the spots she writes about so beautifully.
I’ve bragged about this book a few times on here already, but seriously, it’s so good! I’ll share my review of it shortly, but go get this book. And if you haven’t read the first book in this series, Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (The Peachtree Bluff Series), go get it right now!
Mary Alice Monroe is another of my favorite writes. She makes the Low Country of SC (one of my favorite places) come alive so beautifully in all of her books. Her newest novel, Beach House Reunion, is sure to be a great read. I can’t wait!
I gave my mother-in-law A Nantucket Wedding for Mother’s Day. She’s a huge fan of beach reading, too, and I thought this one looked like something she would like. I’ve not read Nancy Thayer yet, but this book looks like it will be a great first read for me.
Karen White is always a great read. I love the intricate details she weaves throughout her books. I always find myself wanting more when her books end. Dreams of Falling looks to be just as good as The Beach Trees, my favorite Karen White novel.
The book I’m most excited to read is Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted. I love Emily Giffin, and it’s been far too long since her last novel. You better believe this one will be on my doorstep the day it’s released.
Between Me and You
Between Me and You is a novel I stumbled across when I was ordering another book on Amazon and it looks so good. The cover and title drew me in, but when I read the brief synopsis, I knew I had to add it to my reading list — please tell me you keep a running tally of books to read.
I have to admit, the first Debbie Macomber novel I read was picked because the cover was pretty. (What? You don’t pick books based on their covers?) Since then, I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by her and Cottage by the Sea looks to be another hit in my book.
The Devil Wears Prada was one of my favorite movies back in the day and this new novel, When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger is sure to be great!
What books are on your summer reading list?
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March is nearly halfway over and I haven’t shared my February book review yet. Better late than never, right? February was a crazy month for us, but I managed to read two books. Both of my February books turned out to be non-fiction. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to read something true, and that was definitely the case in February.
I love all things Gaines – Magnolia, Fixer Upper, Joanna, and last, but not least, CHIP. Chip is hilarious to me. He’s a total guy’s guy, he’s obviously crazy in love with his wife, and he seems like he’s a really hands-on dad, all awesome things in my book. So when I received Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned While Doing Stupid Stuff, I couldn’t wait to read it.
It was so interesting to read Chip’s life story. He talks about his successes, but he also talks about the failures that helped him get to where he is today. Every single page of this book was filled with encouragement and motivation. I’m definitely a glass half full kind of person who wears rose-colored glasses, so Chip was speaking my language with all of his stories about turning trials into triumphs and making the most out of every situation.
Throughout this book, you can see Chip’s faith shining through, something else I found really refreshing. Chip relies on the Lord for His guidance in making decisions and listens for that still, small voice. In his writing, he motivates us to think about the world we live in today as well as the future, but most of all, to think about what we can do to leave a lasting impact on it.
If you’re looking for a motivational read with lots of fun stories thrown in, I’d highly recommend this book! It’s a quick and easy read, but it will leave you feeling full of wisdom and determination.
The second book I read in February was Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush. I’ve always been fascinated by the Bush family and love seeing Jenna on the Today Show, so I was really excited to read this book. I only wish Jenna and Barbara had a tour stop near me!
This book covers everything from the girls’ early life to national events to personal things like Jenna’s wedding and birth of her daughters. It was really interesting to read how the sisters felt they led relatively normal lives as children to how their grandmother took them abroad for their sixteenth birthday to how their lives have remained just as intertwined as adults as they were as kids.
I enjoyed reading about more personal sides of their famous family and seeing how so many events I “watched” from the sidelines were up close and personal for them.
Throughout this book, you see the very real and deep love these sisters have for each other as well as their extended family. It was very refreshing!
What books have you read lately?
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
One of my goals for this year is to read more. I love to read, but I simply haven’t found/made time to do it much since Caleb was born. I may have ten or so books I bought thinking I’d read them during maternity leave while my sweet baby slept, but that didn’t happen. 🙂
In January, I read three books.Mary Alice Monroe is one of my favorite writers. Her books don’t ever disappoint. That said, this book wasn’t one of my favorites. While the Low Country of SC (one of my very favorite places) comes alive from the very first page of the book, the final book of the “Beach House” series didn’t keep my attention as much as the previous books did.The main character, Cara, is back from some of Monroe’s earlier books and she’s just as lovely as ever. Not to give too much away, but for me, the subject matter around Cara in this book was a bit heavy for me.I loved the character of Heather, a young girl who comes to live in the Beach House for the Summer. Her life becomes entwined with Cara’s, and together, a lovely story is told.All in all, this book is a good read, just not my favorite from this series.Do you want to know how good this book was? I’ll tell you. I read the first five chapters one night and at 11 PM, told my husband I had to start cleaning out our closet and proceeded to do so until nearly 2 AM. And this is coming from someone who very rarely makes it to 11 PM on any given night.I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed due to clutter (no, my house isn’t messy, we just have so many things and save so many things and have little ones who have so many things… get the picture?) and this book was just the inspiration I needed to get rid of so many things.I could devote a whole post to just this subject and I think I will. But first –> Get this book. It is a game changer, a mental mind changer, a time saver. Get it. Now!I’ve loved absolutely everything I’ve read written by Elin Hilderbrand. Her books make me laugh and they make me cry. That make me feel all the feels.This book did not disappoint. I purchased it right after it came out with the good intention of reading it then, but didn’t get to it until a few weeks ago. It was so good! I feel like I know the characters as friends. You know a book is good when you feel like you have something at stake.This book made me love the Quinn family — especially Margaret and Ava — even more!What good books have you read lately?
Over the past few months, I’ve read seven books. Some, I’ve loved, while others, I’ve finished. Here’s a list and my thoughts on each.
First Comes Love by Emily GiffinEmily Giffin is one of my all-time favorite writers. In fact, she may be my favorite author. From Something Borrowed to First Comes Love, her books haven’t ever disappointed me.First Comes Love was different than Giffin’s other novels, but it was just as good – maybe even better. It drew me in from the very first page and I could hardly put it down. I could picture myself in the book and I think you could, too. It’s all about relationships and the complexities they bring. She does a great job of weaving the stories of two sister’s together and examining the family dynamic through tragedy. I don’t normally read her books looking for advice, but parts of this book definitely related to something a close friend has been dealing with and I was able to share a passage with her.All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton FrankI’ve read almost every single one of Dorothea Benton Frank’s books and loved most of them. I have to say, though, I really struggled with All Summer Long. It was a little different – and not set on one of the beloved barrier islands of SC – and I found myself having a really hard time finishing it. I hate to sound critical because I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her up to this point, but there was just something different about this one. I think the fact that I wasn’t able to relate to the main characters could have had something to do with it, but it just wasn’t the normal page-turner I’m used to having when I read Frank’s books. Nonetheless, I finished it, and will read her next book next summer.Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela DruckermanLong before I knew I was pregnant, I knew I would read Bringing Up Bebe. It’s on many list of “must reads” for expectant moms and it did not disappoint. I’m very eager to establish a routine with my new baby boy when he arrives because quite frankly, I’m petrified of having a baby with nights and days mixed up and one who won’t sleep. I love the advice in this book and I plan to put much of it to use next year. Granted, I know babies are all different and can’t really be controlled, but I want to do what I can to try to have a good sleeping baby.Side note to all you mama’s out there: Send sleep suggestions!A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice MonroeMary Alice Monroe is another writer I love. I’ve read most of her books, too, and find that I usually have trouble putting them down. A Lowcountry Wedding was the final book in the Lowcountry Summer series, but reading it makes me long for another book in the series because, let’s face it, one of my favorite character’s was just introduced in this book! Being from the South, and South Carolina in particular where both the book is set and the author resides, many of the locations are familiar to me which is always nice.If you haven’t read this series, I’d encourage you to. It’s great!Skyward by Mary Alice MonroeI’ve had this book for a while, but just read it. It falls into the category of “I had to make myself finish it.” It’s not bad by any means, it just took me longer to get invested in it than usual. The story line is interesting, but it’s different than some of her other books. All of her novels deal with some type of natural environment issue and this was no different.The Matchmaker by Elin HildebrandI’ve only read one other Hilderbrand novel and I have to say, she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. I couldn’t put this book down. Even though I could figure out how it was going to end, I didn’t want to get to the end. I bawled my eyes out in this one (pregnancy hormones or not — you’ll cry). I’ve found that with both of her books I’ve read and the one I’m currently reading, you’re sucked in immediately.I’m fascinated by First Ladies and certain First Families, so this was a book I didn’t want to miss. It was great and offered so many tidbits of information about these women and their families. If you like the women and not necessarily the politics, you’ll enjoy this book!There you have it — the last seven books I’ve read. Tell me: What are you reading?
I love to read and I love spring and summer when new books by my favorite writers are released! Here are a few I can’t wait to read.I read my first Debbie Macomber book, Last One Home, in January and loved it. This books predominately follows two of the characters in Last One Home. I can’t wait to pick it up!Mary Alice Monroe is one of my all-time favorite writers. Her books are always so engaging. I think I’ve read nearly every book she’s written (and just picked up one I hadn’t read). A Lowcountry Wedding is the third novel in the Lowcounty Summer Series. If it’s anything like the first two, it won’t disappoint. It comes out on May 3rd which means it will be a great gift for Mother’s Day (hint, hint).If you haven’t read anything by Dorothea Benton Frank, you need to. She is also one of my favorite writers. Her new novel, All Summer Long, comes out May 31st, right in time for one of our summer beach trips. I can’t wait to read this on the beach.I have read every single book written by Emily Giffin. I’ve also loved every single one. In June, First Comes Love will be published. I can’t wait for it!What are some of your favorite books?
At the end of each year, I like to think of things I’d like to accomplish in the new year. Last year, my one goal was to be better. I wanted to be a better partner for KT, Anna Belle for our boys, daughter, sister, and friend. I wanted to be better in my relationship with Christ and work harder at my job. I wanted to do better with my fitness and become more consistent. In most of those areas, I did do better, but in some, I did worse.As I was reflecting on this past year, I thought of all the things that happened in 2012, chiefly, my marriage to KT. 2012 was a big year for us in more ways than one. In addition to getting engaged and married, we both had changes in our jobs: a great promotion for KT and a new, awesome job for me. The boys both thrived in school and their activities. We had one great year.Looking forward to this year, 2013, there is a three-word phrase I want to use:Soak It In.I wrote a post a few weeks ago about soaking it in and cutting out some of the busyness in my life. Writing that post and reflecting over 2012 has caused me to adopt this as my personal theme for the year.This year, I’d like to:Soak In Faith
Soak In Relationships
- KT and I are planning to read the Bible through this year using a chronological, one-year Bible. I attempted to do this before, but let’s just say I didn’t make it to the spring. I think it’s so important to read God’s Word and pray together as a married couple and I’m excited we’re doing this.
- I want to pray daily. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t always take the time I need to pray. I whisper little prayers throughout the day asking God to be with my husband, our kids, and families, asking for guidance on a decision, to help me get through this run, and to help us have a good night at home, but I don’t take the concentrated time I want and need to take talking to my Saviour each day. KT gave me some new journals (I like to write my prayers.) for Christmas that I can’t wait to start using.
- I want to go to Sunday School regularly. I enjoy morning worship and having my own devotions each day, but I really think being involved in a group with other people, listening, and discussing things is so important.
- Continue reading Bible stories with the boys each night. We gave each of the boys a “big boy” Bible for Christmas. One of those was the Jesus Storybook Bible. If you have young kids (or even if you don’t), you need to get this. It’s the most beautifully written and illustrated Bible I’ve seen. We started in the beginning when we got home from the beach and I’ve just enjoyed reading it with them each night.
- I want to make a Bible verse memory book. I saw this on a blog and pinned it. I really want to make one for myself.
Soak In Fitness
- I want to soak in my time with my husband. I want to grow as a wife and be the best one that I can be for Kevin. I am so blessed to call him my husband. I try to make a conscience effort to show him love daily and not just by saying “I love you.” I want to continue to do that, improve, and find other ways to show him how much he’s needed and loved. I want to make sure I am intentional about spending quality time with him each day. I don’t think there’s much that can make a marriage stronger than by carving out quality time for each other.
- I want to soak in my time with the boys. Getting to be their Anna Belle is not something that I take for granted. It’s a huge blessing. They’re a huge blessing. I love playing with them, watching them grow, working on homework, and snuggling with them. I want to soak this in even more this year.
- I want to soak in time with my family and friends. I want to take the time to spend with those I love and indulge in things we all like to do. I want to ride horses with my dad this year. My family has horses and I haven’t ever been much of a rider and it’s something that I want to learn to do to spend quality time with my dad.
Soak In Fun
- I want to run a race each month.
- I want to run a 5K in less than 21 minutes. (I accomplished this yesterday with a 20:54 5K!0
- Complete the 100 Burpee Challenge with KT. (April 10 will be Day 100!)
- I want to have better abs by this summer.
- I want to run 750 miles.
- I want to workout at the gym 140 times.
- Take fun family vacations to the beach.
- Take the boys to a Clemson game.
- Go to the mountains.
- Take a trip with KT even if it’s only for a long weekend.
- Have one fun date a month.
- Read at least one book each month. This doesn’t sound like much, but reading one book a month will be an accomplishment for me. I love to read and don’t do it often (unless you want to count children’s books). I’m not one of these wives or mom’s that comes in and sits down to read at night. I prefer spending quality time with my family and building memories.
- Eat out less. We have a tendency to eat out more than we should. A lot of that is my fault. It’s a lot easier to pick up something for dinner on the way home or go out to eat, but it’s not better and it’s not healthier. We also eat dinner as a family, which I love, but I’d prefer for us to eat more dinners I’ve cooked. I love to cook, too, so this year, I want to spend more time in the kitchen (I bet you haven’t heard someone say that!) and less time in the drive thru.
- Finish our books. I want to finish our 2012 family book by March, Kaden’s 3rd year book by his birthday in April, and K.C.’s 5th year book by his birthday in July.
- Capture memories. Make a special jar to use to fill with happy memories and good times we have during this year to open on New Year’s Eve 2013.
- Decorate our house. There are a few things we want to decorate and organize this year around our house.
- Stress less and not think so much. I have a tendency to think too much and analyze things. I think about whether we should do this or that, plan things outs, and get worried about things that aren’t a cause for worry. I know myself and my family and I don’t need to create worries.
Happy Monday! These last two weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind! I have so many things I want to talk about and share, most importantly, K.C.’s 5th birthday party recap, but until then, this list will have to do!
- We had a great start to our weekend! We celebrated sweet Mia’s second birthday Saturday afternoon. I think we were in the pool for like five hours! On a side note, the boys had a great time playing with the presents we gave her: play kitchen things. Kaden even said he wanted some boy ones!
- We watched Ice Age Saturday night. Can I just say that the movie made me cry? I usually only cry in happy movies, but my goodness, I rolled over in bed that night and cried thinking about it. Crazy, I know.
- We had two sick babies yesterday. The boys (all three of my guys) caught the great summer cold I had a few weeks ago. K.C. and Kaden both had fever over the weekend and K.C. even got sick. It makes me sad when our sweet boys don’t feel good! It’s the most helpless feeling in the world.
- We watched The Bachelorette last night. I admitted it. I’ve watched my fair share of reality TV (think all the first-class BRAVO housewives), but I haven’t ever gotten into The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Kevin and I saw an episode a few weeks ago and we watched the finale last night. Since I didn’t watch the whole season, I can’t really comment, but something about this Jeff guy doesn’t seem right to me. I liked Ari and I wish that she had picked him. I think he’ll end up being on The Bachelor sometimes.
- Speaking of reality TV, do y’all watch Shark Wranglers? This guy Brett is insane! You couldn’t pay me to jump into the water with a shark!
- I just realized that it sounds like all we do is watch TV. I promise that’s not true. We very rarely watch TV, but when we do, we do.
- Keeping in the spirit of TV, I love Covert Affairs and White Collar. They are my two favorite shows. I’ve always notsosecretly wanted to be a spy. It’d be fun except for the whole not telling anyone, getting shot at, and not knowing where you’re going thing.
- I realize over and over again how blessed I am to have Kevin in my life. He makes me be a better me, makes my days brighter, and causes me to laugh everyday. He’s my best friend and I love him!
- I’m very excited about my new job. I’m really ecstatic about it. When I say this is my dream job, I’m being serious. At the same time, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. I don’t think I’ve slept through the night in about two weeks and I feel like I’m being grouchy. I keep thinking of things I need to do at my current job as I want to make sure I leave my employer and coworkers in the best shape that I can. On the same hand, I’ve already starting thinking about things for my new position. I think once I get settled in there, I’ll calm down.
- About the above grouchy bit: I don’t get aggravated/agitated/annoyed very often. I was snappy with someone I love dearly yesterday. I apologized, but I still feel bad about it. I’m not someone who is ugly to people and I wasn’t my sweet self.
- We have an exciting few months ahead and that makes me happy!
- We’re spending the week at our favorite beach with Kevin’s family next week. I’m looking forward to it! We’re looking so forward to it that we’ve already got the boys’ clothes ready!
- Do you like Meg Cabot? I’m reading her newest book, Size 12 and Ready to Rock. It’s great so far. I sat down for about twenty minutes yesterday afternoon and read some while I was waiting for my spinach dip to cook for a Junior League meeting I had.
- Speaking of books, do you still buy books or download them on your iPad, Nook, Kindle, or other e-reader? I’m a huge proponent of actual books, but at the same time, we’ll eventually run out of room to store all of mine! There are some that I’ll buy no matter what, but some I think I’d be better off reading on my iPad.
Last week, I was looking for something to read. I had just finished The God Box and was reading some of our governor’s book, Can’t Is Not an Option, but I wanted something else to read before Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Meg Cabot) and Where We Belong (Emily Giffin) come out. Enter: What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
I downloaded the book on my iPad and started reading. Whether you’re into self-help books or not, this book is great! There are so many good examples of what many people are doing in the early morning hours. I think the concepts that are discussed can be applied throughout the day, too.
The book focuses on willpower, forming habits, and the three things most successful people are doing in their mornings. These things are:
Until recently, I wouldn’t have classified myself as a morning person at all, so the prospect of getting anything accomplished other than the necessary things was non-existent to me. A few months ago, though, I started trying to use my mornings to do “me” things that I didn’t want to waste time doing at night when I would rather be spending time with my precious family, but are important nonetheless.You all know I love to run and exercise, but sometimes, my schedule doesn’t allow me to run to the gym during lunch (yes, I shower before coming back to work) and I can’t always run at night. I don’t feel as good, have as much energy, or get as much accomplished during the day if I don’t exercise at least some, so realizing this, I decided I’d try to exercise in the mornings. I don’t do this everyday, but it makes a huge difference when I do.I try to do weight training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and run every day but Sunday and Thursday. On days that I use weights, I give myself 45 minutes from the time I walk out of the door to go to the gym to the time I get in the car to go to work. I know what you’re thinking. How can you possibly work out, shower, and get ready in 45 minutes? And what about breakfast?It goes like this:I get up and shower, do my makeup, and dry my hair like I do every morning, but instead of putting on my work clothes and fixing my hair, I slip into my gym clothes, put my hair in a loose pony tail and throw my curling iron in my bag. I go to the gym and workout. After my workout, I take a quick shower, put on my work clothes, and curl my hair. For breakfast, I usually have one of my beloved Nature Valley granola bars and fruit at my desk.The other thing I am trying to transition to do in the mornings is my quiet time. I am reading a chapter a day in the Bible (I’m currently in Ephesians) and writing what hits me in my journal. I also like to have time to pray. Sometimes, I feel rushed and I don’t like feeling that way when I’m saying my prayers. I am usually ready for work by 7:30 and have to leave by 8:15, so that gives me thirty minutes or so to do this.As you can tell, I spend my mornings mostly nurturing myself. It feels so good to have my exercise (or most of it anyway) out of the way by the time I get to work and my days feel better when I start them with time with God. With limited time in the mornings, it’s important to prioritize and nurture which area is best suited for the morning during your extra time.If you’re interested in how you can better use your morning time, the books outlines these things:
- Nurturing their careers – strategizing and focused work.
- Nurturing their relationships – giving their families and friends their best.
- Nurturing themselves – exercise and spiritual and creative practices.
- Track Your Time
- Picture Your Perfect Morning – my perfect morning is a run/exercise early, quiet time, and then a big family breakfast and lots of snuggles!
- Think Through Logistics
- Build Your Habit
- Tune Up as Necessary