My very own summer reading program

One of my favorite childhood memories is participating in my library’s summer reading program. Basically the more books you read, the more points you earn and you can exchange your points for prizes.

I decided this summer I would do my own summer reading program, if you will. No, there aren’t points or prizes. I’ve just been checking out books from the library and reading as much as I can.

Here are some of my favorite books I’ve read.

1). Beartown – Fredrik Backman

I started Beartown in the spring and read a few chapters before I put it down. The chapters were short but there were so many characters it was hard to keep them straight. I decided to pick it up again in June and I’m glad I did. It’s a slow burn, but the character development and story is so good. Beartown is a book about a hockey town, but it’s not a hockey book.

2). Us Against You – Fredrik Backman

I loved Beartown so much I had to read the sequel. Sometimes sequels get a bad rap, but I didn’t find that to be true with Us Against You. The book broke my heart into a million pieces, but in the best way. I fell in love with the characters and hurt when they hurt and cheered on their successes.

3). Miracle Creek – Angie Kim

Miracle Creek was more than just a thriller or courtroom drama. I thought the author did a great job of conveying deep, complex, and messy people. The book tackles family ties and facing the consequences of your actions. It also kept me guessing until the end.

4). The Lost Girls of Paris – Pam Jenoff

The Lost Girls of Paris started a little slow, but after awhile I couldn’t put it down. It’s a historical fiction novel about women working with the SOE as spies during World War II. It was nerve-wracking and pulled on my heartstrings at the same time. I can’t say I loved everything about it, but it did a great job of showing how fierce and resilient women are.

5). The Wedding Date – Jasmine Guillory

After diving into some historical fiction novels and thrillers, I needed a break. The Wedding Date was just what I needed. It was a quick read and it was charming. I loved reading about Alexa and Drew. I also read The Proposal – the second book in the series. The third book, The Wedding Party is up next for me.

Just like everyone, I have also read books that I wish I could unread.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames was that book for me. I thought it was unnecessarily long and unnecessarily depressing. It has a lot of good reviews on Goodreads, but it was not the book for me. I will say the beginning was intriguing and had a lot of promise and I liked reading about the Italian-American immigrant family. But, I found it so grim and depressing that I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

What about you? What are you reading? What did you like and what ended up on your did not finish list?

My favorite books I’ve read (so far) this year

1.) The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

I’ve read several books by Kristin Hannah now and this one is by far my favorite. It’s set in Alaska and the reader truly gets a feel for how dangerous homesteading was. With a wild and beautiful backdrop the author writes about family, restoring faith, love, forgiveness, and survival. 

2.) Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

I was surprised by how quickly I fell for this novel. Set in the deep marsh of North Carolina lives Kya Clark. A girl who grew up alone and overcame hardships. This is a story about resiliency, survival, prejudice, and strength.

3.) The Huntress – Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is no stranger to strong women characters. I bought this book the day it was released and finished it within three days. The storytelling and character depth is unmatched. The author weaves three story lines masterfully throughout the entire book.

4.) Where’d you go Bernadette – Maria Semple

I cannot say enough about this book. It was fun, witty, sarcastic, odd, and just plain enjoyable. There’s mystery and adventure and several laugh-out-loud moments. I didn’t want it to end.

5.) Elevation – Stephen King

This book is different and short. It’s far from a horror story and, in fact, I would call it a feel-good novel. There’s a supernatural twist but more than that is a story about friendship, community, and rising about the fray.

The best writing advice I ever received

Write what you know. But, don’t let that stop you from asking questions and writing about what you learn.

Read a lot. You become a better writer when you read what other people write and learn from them.

Write like you speak. It’s easy to put on a tone when writing and use words you wouldn’t normally use. While there is a time for that, it’s more refreshing and genuine to write like you speak.

Write short sentences. A meaningful short sentence is better than a long sentence with unnecessary words.

Find the time. For a long time I didn’t write. I was busy, I was tired, or I wasn’t inspired. Although writing can be hard, sitting down to write can be harder.

All I ask is that you do as well as you can, and remember that, while to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine.”

Stephen King

Keeping resolutions by setting intentions

Now that it’s almost March I started thinking about my New Years resolutions. This year I decided to set intentions instead of specific goals. My list includes:

  1.  travel more
  2. Be kind to myself and others
  3. Read more
  4. Write more
  5. Fear less
  6. Love fiercely
  7. Grow in faith
  8. Enjoy every moment and stop waiting for weekends and big events to have fun.
  9. Work on finding a balance between work and life

So how have I been doing? I’m happy to say that I’m working on all of these.

  1. I traveled to California last month and have a few trips planned this year.
  2. In my previous post I pointed out the importance of self love and extending the same kindness and grace to others.
  3. So far I’ve read 7 books this year and I’m reading two right now. I’m also getting ready to start a book club with a friend.
  4. This blog is proof that I’m working on writing 🙂
  5. For me the next three are all connected.
  6. I am a worrier and I’ve been working on that this year by choosing to worry less and spend more time growing in faith and prayer.
  7. Part of that is loving people and myself more.
  8. I am blessed to have a husband and family that love doing adventurous and fun things. I went to a Cher concert with my mom recently, I just took a trip to Chicago with my husband and we’re planning a family vacation. But instead of spending all of my time looking forward to these events I’m working on enjoying every single moment- even Saturday errands, grocery shopping, and lazy afternoons of watching Netflix. More time is spent in the small monotonous moments than in the big moments and that’s beautiful too.
  9. I’m still working on finding the balance. I used to think success was defined by long hours and burn out and that’s just not the case. It’s important to have both.

All of these are tied back to being kind to others and myself, spending time with my loved ones, and finding time for the things I love to do. It continues to be a work in progress but I’m enjoying the work.

What about you? Did you make any new year’s resolutions? Did you keep them? And if you did, what helped you succeed?