What I’m Into – July

The summer has flown by, I can’t believe it’s almost gone. As a fan of fall, I’m ok with this. I like the idea of summer, but in this space of my life the enchantment doesn’t hold me the same it did as a kid. I’m not in an environment that makes the warmth of the sun and cool breezes a welcome feeling. Instead, there is a strong humidity that clings to everything around it, making you feel as though you’ve walked into a wall of heat upon stepping out your door. I won’t miss that when it leaves in a month or two.

July was a month of business and parties and recovery. Of reunions–of quiet and loud. So many contrasts held close. I’m not sure what this halfway point means to the rest of the year but I’ll be glad to find out.

What I’m Reading –

I did not do too well this month with reading, I got pretty busy and pleasure reading came few and far between. So I’m going to cheat and sneak a few June books in here.

-If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski (5/5). I’ve followed Jamie’s writing for a long time. He has a true talent in his words, which shines in this collection. An anthology structured through the years shows triumphs, tragedies and moments of beauty. Though many of these told his story, his words always have a way of connecting to the hearts of others. It’s a solid collection that I highly recommend.
-Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (5/5). My first of Dessen’s and I loved it. I thought the story, the pacing and the characters were excellent.
-Found by Micha Boyett (4/5). I was unsure of this book for a while, because while it sounded interesting to me, I’m not a mother and often in christian non-fic, motherhood is used in such a way I just can’t connect with. That said, not a problem here. I loved the way she wrote about becoming a new mother and adjusting to that stage of life. Micha’s writing about her journey within church and faith was beautiful.
-The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (5/5). Blown away by book three in the Shades of London series. It’s a little creepy but suspenseful and oh boy did I love the passage 3/4 through the book. I also appreciated that it didn’t end with a cliff hanger. But I’m still anxiously awaiting book 4…due in two years or so.
-The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (4/5). Beautiful Royal Family fanfiction-esque story and I loved it to pieces. There were a couple sections I skimmed or skipped over but overall I just loved this story. It was a great quick read, fluff piece.
-Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5/5). I did not anticipate liking this story as much as I did.

I read 6 books in July, bringing my total to 76 books for the year. I beat my second reading goal (!!!) and moved my final yearlong reading goal up to 100.

What I Listened To –
-All Prodigal Daughters and Sons by Emily Joy. This spoken word album is amazing. I’ve relistened to this so many times this month. My favorite tracks as “The Last Poem,” “You Are Not a Princess,” and the title track.
-Sly July. I made a playlist of favorite songs this month. My most played songs: House of Gold by twentyone pilots and Before I Sleep by Joy Williams.

What I Watched –
-Broadchurch series 2. I watched 83% of the series (I haven’t seen the last two eps yet so no spoilers!) but I really enjoyed this second season. I tried to come in with no expectations (and having seen no promos) and I think that was the best way to do it. That and bingewatching it. Worth a watch just for David Tennant’s scottish accent.

Favorite Instagram –
Sorry instagram changed their website and I can’t attach photos at this point. I’m embedding it and hopefully I can come back in and put the photo up later. Here’s the photo.

Sending best wishes to you for this August, in this month of change that there would be plenty of small, beautiful moments. Linking up with Leigh, as usual. Be sure to check out her post for beautiful San Fran pictures, as well as the rest of the link up.

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What I’m Into – May

Where did May go? Didn’t the month just start? It was a pretty good month and as usual, I’m sad to see it go. June will bring with it more summer goodness. Here’s some things I was into this month. Connecting with the lovely Leigh (check out my favorite post of her’s this month. Made me want to hit the road and head to Nashville stat) and the What I’m Into link-up.

What I’m Reading:
Last month I read a lot of books that didn’t connect with me. Some weren’t great or were good but generally just weren’t my thing. I looked at my goodreads ratings for last month. It was all threes and fours. Suddenly I understood why I felt a little burnt out. At the beginning of May, I accidentally devoured a book that I fell in love with. That’s when I remembered why reading books you’re passionate about is so important. It reminds me why I love to read in the first place.

-Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (5/5). An anthology of notes from the Dear Sugar column Cheryl used to write for the website The Rumpus. I loved this book. It spoke to my soul and freed me. I know this book and her advice are not for everyone. But I found the questions and the answers immensely freeing & good for my soul. I love how much of her own stories Cheryl (as Sugar) included in her responses.
-Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (4/5). I love this series of books by Steph.This particular volume in the series wasn’t my favorite. I definitely preferred Isla’s story (which comes after Lola’s). It was a little tropey and very teenage protagonist. That said, it was a (mostly) light and cute read for me, which is what I wanted.
-Find the Good by Heather Lende (5/5). I picked this up on a whim from the popular reads section of the library and loved it. A short collections of essays on life and death from an obit writer in Alaska. These stories were good for my soul.
-Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (2/5). The back cover sounded interesting: destiny brings a man and woman together as they’re held up at a gas station. But between the characters (both very wounded and unstable) and the unclear flashing between past and present, I couldn’t take it. Halfway through the novel, I nearly gave up because I couldn’t find myself rooting for either of the main characters. I pushed through but still, didn’t like it. Nothing hurts my heart like being disappointed in a book. Sometimes it’s just not a good match for you.
-In the Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (5/5). This book took me by surprise in the best way. Rory, a Louisiana native, comes to boarding school outside of London when a Jack the Ripper imitator is beginning to strike. I’d hesitated at picking this up before but I’m so glad I did. The story picks up about 1/4 of the way in and it’s hard to put down! I requested books two and three…three came first and I haven’t been able to pick up book two yet! Excited to start book two next week.

This month I hit my preliminary reading goal of 50 books! Woohoo! I moved my goodreads challenge up to 75 books. I’d like to read more than that but since I’m not sure what the rest of the year will bring me, I’m going easy on the number. Currently I’ve read 55 books for the year.

On the to-read stack: If You find this Letter by Hannah Brencher, The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker and If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski.

Audience participation: I have a question for you. What does it take for you to not finish a book? Is there a page limit? Do you push on through and just finish? Is there certain content that will make you stop? I’m curious about what you think.

What I’m Listening to:
-Mumford and Sons, Wilder Mind. Yes and please. Don’t get me wrong I miss those banjos like whoa. But their lyrics still connect to my soul.
-Jon Foreman, Caroline. I think I’m really going to enjoy his next musical series The Wonderlands.
-Joy Williams, Until the Levee and What a Good Woman Does. Joy is bringing the soul stirring lyrics to her debut. If I can’t have my beloved Civil Wars back, this is the best runner up.

What Podcasts I’m Listening to:
-Joy the Baker podcast.
-Dear Sugar. Always and forever. The episode about friendship this month nearly brought me to tears. I love the Sugars.

What I’m Watching:
-Once Upon a Time. Alternate Universe (AU) storyline? Yes. I loved this episode so much. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the AU, but not as much as I did. I’d watch a mini-series of these characters in the AU realm. Of course I’m still feeling the ending (that’s as much of a spoiler as I’ll say) and I don’t know how I’m going to make it til Fall.

Other things I loved this month:
-Early morning walks on the beach during our Mother’s Day trip.
-Catching up conversations with a friend.
-Ordering a box of new books I’m excited to read.
-Finding a gift card in an older box and discovering it still had a full balance! That made my box of books order even better.
-Sitting in the new airport cell lot, which is right near one of the runways. Sitting in the car and getting to watch planes take off or land. Dream come true. ❤
-Finding out one of my favorite authors, Allie Brosh, has a new book coming out in October!

Instagram:
-Beachgram. One of those few summery things I got into. But goodness morning walks with your feet in the water are glorious.

beach view

Here’s to a glorious June of warm sun, cool breezes and lots of cool treats. To summer reads and good things, both planned and unexpected.

What I’m Into – July

Linking up with Leigh and so many beautiful others for What I’m Into. This month has been filled to the brim with so much. I’m sad to see it go and yet I’m glad to move on. I spent my last days in the mosqutio filled north with its beauty. I walked (and barely sprinted) my first 5k. We took the long way home over five flights, four planes, hours running through airports and calming down one curious chihuahua. I spent days trying to readjust, especially with my allergies. I was caught up in daily deadlines. But I found the joy in summer. I’ve started to love the cool rains (but not the lightning, hasn’t won me over yet). I said goodbye to my favorite coffee shop, not knowing if it would open its doors again. And happily, an email told me that it will be reopening. This month, I have stretched and grown and ached and smiled.

Reading-
The thing about spending a lot of time in airports and on airplanes is that you get a lot of time to catch up on your to-read stack! I vary between my kindle app and physical books. Can’t beat some of those kindle deals but I don’t think I’ll ever be over the feeling of a book in my hands, flipping through pages.
-Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans. I’d actually picked up this book before under its former title when I was at school. For whatever reason (deadlines) I didn’t read it. But now I’m so glad I did. I loved what Rachel wrote about faith, asking questions and tradition.
-Speak by Nish Weiseth. I’m going to write a separate review on this book, so stay tuned! I loved this book. If you’re worried that this will be another in the pile of story-related Christian cliches, don’t be. It’s a book for her, for you and for me.
-I Haven’t Been to Vegas but my Luggage Has by Mandy Hale. Y’all, I’m a sucker for a good story about hilarious single women. The world needs more of them sharing their heart and making me laugh. It’s why I love Annie Downs so much (coming soon, a review of her latest book! Which I’m behind on because deadlines). I found this at the bookstore and knew I had to read it. The first half of the book is really strong, as Mandy tells stories of her hilarious hijinks and delves into the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to dating. But the book lost appeal for me during the second half. The tone seemed to change, it wasn’t funny or strictly serious. She talks about starting her platform “The Single Woman” but she used such sparse details, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept. Maybe she’s gone into detail on her own site, I don’t know. I’m not a reader of hers, but I found that too distracting. I was disappointed at the outcome–it felt like the book just couldn’t keep up momentum.
-The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson. While we’re on the topic of books and that can’t keep up momentum, I was disappointed with this offering, too. I loved the previous book so much I ordered this on kindle immediately after finishing. But it didn’t quite live up to the previous book for me. I was so eager to read the last letter and it almost didn’t seem worth reading, which makes me really sad. The first book (which I read last month) was great and I’ll be sure to check out more by Maureen (that is, if she doesn’t run me over in her segway this weekend at Leaky).
-Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. This book took me months to read in the best of ways. Since it’s filled with little essays, it’s easy to read a bit, then set down to ponder. I loved the way Glennon writes and speaks honestly about her own life. It’s good humor and I love the way she talks about faith & loving others. I love that this is a book I can continue to pick up and read short pieces of.
-I just started reading a novel from one of my favorite authors that hits stories in September. I’m sure I’ll have lots to say about it next month.
I’m up to thirty books read for the year! Yay! When I first started this challenge, I wasn’t sure I could get to twenty five! It feels good to have made so much progress.

Music-
Two of my favorite bands came out with new releases: Anberlin and Colony House. I don’t own either yet. I’ve been listening to a lot of Cities in honor of the new album. I’ve also had the Noah Gunderson and Josh Garrells pandora channels on this month as my study music.

Youtube-
I fell in love with a series called Letters to July by Emily Diana Ruth. It’s amazing. She writes letters to the month of July with the moments she’s savoring, the things she thinks and fear. It’s beautiful. And it’s a collaboration with other youtubers. Here’s the playlist from this year (adult language warning) and from last. I was so inspired, it become a writing prompt on my tumblr. And I think I’ll be reposting some of the content over here next month.

Around the Web-
All Hootenannie, all of the time. Especially this post about how your dream might not be all you thought. But seriously, this gal is hilarious and one of my favorite writers on the internet.
And Hilary Yancey’s post at Lisa-Jo’s place about her relationship with her mother. It made me cry and reminded me so much of the relationship between my own Mom and I. We share a lot of special moments, which I’m so grateful for. I hope we’ll laugh that hard at my own wedding, some day. Hilary is another of my favorite writers.

Random-
-We’re getting a book about Lydia Bennet. It’s real. It’s happening. I’m so excited. I fell in love with her thanks to Mary-Kate Wiles performance on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the spin-off, The Lydia Bennet! I’m really excited to get more of a glimpse into this character.
-I got a gym membership this month. Which means a lot of testing my own limits, introspection and drinking a lot of water. It’s something I’m glad to do and keep up with, but I don’t feel the progress yet.
-I’ve had deadlines every day this month until the 28th. What was packed in those deadlines nearly killed me towards the end. So now I’m reveling in this time I get to rest. It’s not something I loved but I was sure into it. 😀
-I’m always into breakfasts or brunches at Fresh Markets.
-Conversations with friends that remind me how lucky I am to have them. I’ve had several of those this month and it’s a joy. ❤
-Surprise presents in the mail.
-Oversized, cozy sweatshirts.

Instagram-

Two favorites this month: A study in contrasts or Florida. Every day. Like clockwork.

And I like airplanes and good shots.

August, I’m excited to say hello to you, friend. It’ll bring new excitement and new challenges. Tomorrow, I’m attending my very first convention! I’m a huge bundle of excitement and nerves. Friends have been so generous to give me tips and I’m hoping I’m prepared. I’m also hoping not to make a fool of myself when I meet my favorite actors and fandom friends. Soon after, a roadtrip adventure and seeing a dear friend. Then home and more dear friends. I hope August brings you joy and laughter. A relief of cool air or the warmth of the sun, depending on your preference. 😉 And I hope you have amazing adventures this month. Thanks to Leigh for hosting this awesome link-up. And check out her page if you haven’t.

What I’m Into – June

Hey everyone! This is going to be an abbreviated post. I’m away on vacation staying with my Grandparents in cool paradise. Well, except for the bugs. What I’m into June: anything that will kill the bugs before they bite me! And wifi. Because I’ve no phone service up here. YUUUUUUP. But I love the link-up with Leigh so much, I couldn’t bare to skip it. (Be sure to check out the link up, there’s a bunch of awesome people posting there)

Reading:

Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey – I got an advanced copy through net galley. I’ll be posting a review closer to the release date. I loved this book, I could hardly put it down!

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs – Working on my review to post soon. But goodness do I love Annie and her stories. ❤

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson – This was recommended at the end of a Blimey Cow video by Kelli, so I thought I’d pick it up for the road. I’d never read anything of Johnson’s, besides her amazing twitter feed. I really liked this book. It was a neat adventure story.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick – If you’ve read around here long enough (or followed me on twitter), you’ll know that I’m still in love with the webseries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It was a modern day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, done extremely well as a vlog series. Now, they’ve adapted the book, telling a few stories that couldn’t be told by vlog format. It did not disappoint! Even better: Ashley Clements, who played Lizzie, reads the audiobook and does all the costume theater voices for other characters. I’m so glad they published this book and still am anxious for a story from Lydia’s point of view.

Currently reading but not finished – Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor, I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has by Mandy Hale, Finding Faith by Rachel Held Evans and The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson.

Music:

I’ve been listening to The Lover’s Song after this video. I downloaded Ledges by Noah Gunderson. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Anberlin. And I found a live album from Josh Garrels, which I’m in love with.

What I’m Into – Random:
-White Chocolate Raspberry scones
-Italian Cream Sodas, I think Raspberry is my favorite. Unintentional themes! Yay!
-Catching up on Nick at Nite since my cabin has cable.
-Boy Meets World and the pilot of Girl Meets World. You know, Girl wasn’t my favorite. But it reminded me so much of Boy Meets World, I found myself rooting for it.
-Burgers with fried onions from the grill.
-curly fries and waffle fries (vacation? working out? 5k in two days? oops.)
-the TFioS movie. I had to wait a few days to see it, right before I left town, but I loved it so much. It stayed true to the book and the spirit of the book. I cried. But in a good way. Once I’m home, I’m going to go see it again.
-wearing my chucks again, since the weather is cool.
-hitting the halfway mark on my reading goal for the year. WOOHOO! 25 books down, 25 (or more?) to go.

Instagram:

I couldn’t pick just one this month. The first is the view from here. The second is the local library. It’s tiny but it’s beautiful.

the view from here

library

Well, that’s all til next month, y’all. I hope July brings you beautiful things and that we can all beat the heat. I’m always looking for book recommendations, so if you have some, please leave them in comments.