Thursday, January 4, 2018

Top Ten Books of 2017

2017 was the year I fell in love with reading again! We moved down the street from the library and I spent so much time reading. I loved it. I'm planning on continuing to blog my books monthly, and I also started an instagram to share my recommendations and what I'm currently reading. You can find it at @thelocationofthelibrary.

This year I blogged about 37 books, and read even more than that. This year I hope to read 50, and I'll be blogging about all of them! It was so hard to decide my top favorite books this year! 

If you want to read my opinion on the book I've linked the book to my review under the picture.
































So there are my ten favorites this year! I hope you enjoy them! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What I Read: December

December was a big month for reading! I'm a few days late on my post but I was reading until the last minute and wanted to get my 2017 and 2018 goals posted. 

Later on this week I'm sharing my top ten favorite books for the year!





Corrupted - Lisa Scottoline

"Thirteen years ago, attorney Bennie Rosato took on Jason Lefkavick, a twelve-year-old boy who was sent to a juvenile detention center after fighting a class bully. Bennie couldn't free Jason, and to this day it's the case that haunts her. Jason has grown up in and out of juvenile prison, and his adulthood hasn't been any easier. Bennie no longer represents those accused of murder, but when Jason is indicted for killing the same bully he fought with as a kid, she sees no choice but to represent him. She doesn't know whether or not to believe his claims of innocence, but she knows she owes him for past failures-of the law, of the juvenile justice system, and of herself. Forced to relive the darkest period of her life, Bennie will do everything in her power to get the truth, and justice." (Taken from Amazon)

This book was such a page turner. I used Amazon's summary because I wanted to do the book justice. The characters are so easy to fall in love with. Definitely pick this one up!



The Breakdown - B.A. Paris

Cass is haunted by the night she drove by a car in the pouring down road because the woman was killed that night. Since then, she's been forgetting everything and imagining things at home. Then she starts receiving phone calls with a silent caller on the end.  She ends up seeing a doctor who perscribes her some anxiety medicine and almost overdoses. The story follows her trying to find out who is following Cass, and who killed that woman. 

I loved this one. I can't say much without giving it away, but if you're into suspense novels this is a good one to read!



100 Days of Happiness - Fausto Brizzi

Lucio is diagnosed with cancer and has about 100 days to live. He spends his last 100 days trying to get his wife to fall back in love with him and doing all the things he wishes he had before. 

This one will absolutely make you cry and that's coming from soneone who doesn't cry at books/movies. Each chapter is a day and while it's a little slow moving at first, it picks up and you can't put it down.



Merry and Bright - Debbie Macomber

Merry Knight is busy taking care of her family and temping at an agency with a terrible boss. Without her knowledge, Merry’s mom and brother create an online dating profile for her (leaving her picture out). Soon Merry finds a man she seems to like, and they decide to meet. When they meet, he's the last person Merry expected.
I loved this book! From the cover (because they have a Brinx on the front!), to the storyline, to the characters. This is one of my new favorite Christmas books.


I See You - Clare Mackintosh

When Zoe Walker sees her won face in a classified ad for a site called FindTheOne.com she begins to worry. In the following days she sees other women in the ad, and they are all victims of violent crimes. Working with a detective, they vow to figure out who is behind the ads.


Y'all. This book is SO good. I couldn't put it down and couldn't figure out who was behind the ads. Such a good suspense novel.




Under the Harrow - Flynn Berry

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Eh. This one. I tried to get into it and almost took it back several times. I just couldn't get that into it. 




The Mistletoe Inn - Richard Paul Evans

Kimberly Rossi signs up for a retreat, determined to become the next romance author. Her dad sends her as a gift because he wants to see her pursue her dream. At the retreat Kimberly meets a man she's attracted to. As Kimberly begins to open up to Zeke about her dreams and he critiques her writing, she finds that he has his own past he's unwilling to talk about.

This is my new favorite Christmas story! If you're a big fan of the happy ending, Hallmark stories, this ones for you. 



November 9 - Colleen Hoover

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon's last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

I fell in love with Colleen Hoover's writing last year, and this book was no different. November 9 had a fantastic storyline complete with characters you can't help but fall in love with. Go get this one!

So that's it for my books this last month! Some really good ones in there! 

If you want to see what I've read previously you can see those here:


If you haven't, go follow my instagram @thelocationofthelibrary for more book recommendations!

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Goals

Many people think New Year's resolutions are stupid. I'm not one of them.

I think it's good to look back at the past year, and good to think of a few things to work on in the new year.

I don't make these goals just to make them. If I think I will actually work on it, I'll put it down in writing. If not, I don't. Simple.

If you want to see how I did on my New Year's resolutions in 2017, you can check those out here.

So here are the things I'd like to work on in 2018:

Make time for Jesus every day. Y'all. This is hard, but then again it's not. I make time for Facebook. For Instagram. For reading. So why can't I make sure I spend some amount of time every day with Jesus? So that's my #1 goal for this year. It doesn't have to be extravagant every day. But something.


Work out at least three times a week. This shouldn't be that hard either. But it is. Because I have a million and one things to do every week. But my goal is three; four would be better.

Spend 30 minutes outside with Lincoln every day. 30 minutes. Playing soccer/baseball/basketball. Going to the park. Playing with the dogs. Doing something outside. Because that's good for us physically and mentally, and I want to instill in my child that being healthy is a good thing.



Eat healthier. This is an extension of last year's goal. I'm being healthier as far as working out, so now I need to be more focused on my eating habits.

Read 50 books. No explanation needed.



Create an Instagram account based on all my books/reading. I've fallen in love with reading again this past year and love all these accounts for book lovers. So I want to create my own. Update: I actually did this already! Check out my new Instagram @thelocationofthelibrary for all my readings and book recs.



Travel. This is something we want to do a lot as a family. We have a cruise booked for the summer but we want to go on at least one other trip this year. 



Add one (or more) state to our map. This builds on my desire to travel this year. We've been to five states as a family, and this year I want to add at least one more.


Try yoga. I really want to give this a shot. I have awful tension in my shoulders and neck and extremely tight hips. I'm hoping yoga will help. I've heard such good things.

Memorize 12 Bible verses - one each month.

So those are my goals for this year. I'll probably add more as the year goes on, but for now this is it! 

Happy 2018!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Goals Revisited

Last year around this time I made some goals.. New Year's resolutions.. whatever you want to call them. I actually looked back on them during the middle of the year and was pretty happy with them. 

So if you want to see which ones I rocked and which I failed - here goes.
 
Read my Bible more consistently. Not let busyness or exhaustion take away from the most important thing. I actually did read my Bible more consistently. I also spent more time in worship - playing songs and just singing and thinking during them. I didn't do perfect in this department, but I did much better than the year before.

 
Look for God in the little as well as the big. I'm proud to say I did this. I saw Jesus in the sunset. Jesus in the beautiful weather. Jesus in the smile of my child. I saw Jesus when we unexpectedly got a refund in money. I also saw Jesus in the infertility office, when all I felt like was sobbing. I saw Jesus when Michael had to unexpectedly leave his job. I saw Jesus when we faced the hard moments, and when we embraced the sweet ones.



Blog if I can find the time. I did blog more often this year and I would like to continue that. I want to write even more this year.

 
Put my phone down more often. I could be better on this one. Facebook isn't that important. But I did try to make sure that when I was spending time with Lincoln I wasn't staring at my phone.

 
Spend a lot of time outdoors with Linc man. We rocked this one. Go us. We finally had a backyard this year and oh my word, we spent SO much time outside. 



Be intentional with my time. I did this for the most part. I think the most important part of this was that I learned how important it is to spend time on myself, and I did that while Michael was at work and Linc was at school.
 
Train the bad dog Brinx. We had to get rid of our couch this year. Enough said.



Be healthier. Eat better. Exercise regularly. This includes finding some sort of exercise I actually enjoy. I joined a gym! I still need to work on the eating healthier part, but I did do the keto diet for a while. (For health reasons.) (Kill me.)

 
Pay off debt. We worked on this. We also had to unexpectedly buy a car. But we did make progress.

 
Do some of the classes I need for my bachelor degree. Sure did not do this.

 
Attempt tennis again without a bad attitude (sorry, patient Husband.) Or this. Hm.

 
Take time to spend quiet time at some of my favorite places. Downtown. My backyard. The library. I also found a new favorite place: a bookstore!



So I feel like I did pretty good I think. I worked at a lot of these and I'm excited to continue to. Now on to 2018!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Summer Vacation 2017: Day Three

While I realize that these posts are so, so late.. I wanted to write about them so I can remember these trips. I want these little (and big) vacations documented with my little family so I can remember them forever.

If you missed my other Summer Vacation posts you can see day one here and day two here.

And because these are so hard to write so many months later, I'm going to try to start writing them as soon after vacation as possible.

Sunday morning we headed to Islands of Adventure in our superhero tshirts. While we absolutely loved Universal for their ET ride, IOA definitely won out as our favorite. 


We started off at Seussland which was super cute. This train we rode on gives you an awesome view of the park. 



We then headed to Jurassic Park, which ended up being one of our favorites. We rode it several times. Got soaked, several times.



Linc got this dinsoaur for his souvenir from Jurassic Park and sadly it broke last month. 


Skull Island was a ride Linc was really looking forward to, but the wait inside scared him pretty badly. It's super dark in line, people jump out trying to scare you, and there was this creepy animated person that we were super excited to get away from.



We took turns holding him and the ride ended up being good. He especially loved the guts of the spider going everywhere. Typical boy.


Lincoln LOVED the water rides. He is such a dare devil and I love it! This is him seeing the second water ride we went on.  


We ate lunch at Mythos, which I highly recommend if you ever find yourself at IOA. It is amazing.


 

They even had Universal Studios engraved into their butter, which is amazing if you're fascinated by little things like I am.



Our waiter gave us the best advice.. take the uneaten bread outside behind the restaurant and feed the fish. There are hundreds. It was a really cool moment.


We then headed to Hogsmeaded, which, like Harry Potter world at Universal was fantastic. They have done such a great job with this. 

We also drank more Butterbeer. Act surprised.


Lincoln looks ridiculously unhappy here, but he wasn't. 



We went on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (about five times) and loved it. We weren't sure Lincoln would make the height requirement but he just made it. 

The cool thing about this day: When we were standing in line the second or third time one of the employees asked us to go up front because Lincoln's height was questionable for the ride. While we were up there a man behind us shouted, "Come on! Let him on!" which just started a bunch of people into shouting for Lincoln to be able to ride. 

It was such a simple moment, but it reminded me that there is so much good in this world. People can surprise you and make you smile and just add so much to your day, in the simplest ways.

With some encouragement from the other riders, they let Lincoln on, and we actually got to skip to the front of the line because they had taken us out of line to measure him! How cool!

We also rode the Hippogriff ride which is a small roller coaster. When we went down the ride Lincoln started busting out laughing and then screaming "Yeah!!!!! Let's do it again!!! Yeah!!!!" And then he went back to laughing. It went on like that for the entire ride. Absolutely made my whole day.


We also rode the IOA equivalent to the teacups at Disney and Lincoln attempted to find out if he could make me puke.


This may be an unattractive pictures of me, but there's a story behind it.

At IOA, they have three water rides. We rode all three, several times. I didn't think about bringing flip flops to change into to let my socks and shoes dry. Well, by the end of the day our wet feet had been in our wet socks and shoes ALL day, and they hurt SO bad.

(When I googled it I was sure I'd have to get a toe amputated. Never google anything relating to your health.)

This was the last ride we rode and I was still soaking wet from the water rides. Linc begged me to go on it and because I'm a pushover I did. Well he controlled that stinking fish and made us go through the water over and over. He was SO happy we were getting wet again and I was just praying my feet would fall off.


When we were almost to the car Michael tried to find the keys to the car and they were missing. We were absolutely panicked. The park was closing. We couldn't imagine where they'd be. We had no other way to get home. Finally, after about 20 minutes of searching through his backpack we found them.. covered in Tums. Melted tums. Yes. The heartburn medicine.

Y'all. It was so bad. It was late at night. Our feet hurt SO bad. We had no paper towels to clean the key off to use it to start the car. We started using clean socks from our luggage. I wish I was kidding.

After using every clean sock we could find we finished and headed home. 

Despite the ending to the night, it was the sweetest time away before school started with our boy.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

25

Happy Friday, friends! 

This weekend is extra special because Sunday is my birthday!

Ever since I was little, I've always loved birthdays. Mine, my family's, a random strangers.. doesn't matter. Birthdays are awesome.

In high school I had a friend who was a culinary genius, and I would always convince once of my teachers to let us celebrate my birthday (never mind that we didn't celebrate anyone else's birthday) with homemade cookie cake. I'm not sure how I managed it, but every single year we did that.

Because I'm super emotional always, every year before my birthday I think back on the year. What big things happened while I was (insert age), what heartaches I experienced, what made the year good, what was different. 

This year has been mundane as far as events go. I finished school/got married/became a nurse when I was 23, so nothing like that happened. I didn't change jobs. I didn't have a baby, move, or do anything noteworthy.

24 was filled with a lot of heartache and emotion. We sat in a fertility office this year. I came to the conclusion that we'll (most likely) never have another child. We've walked through financial issues. My car died. I experienced my first loss of a patient - a patient that was very special to me. We thought we were going to lose Copper. Michael changed jobs unexpectedly and I had a lot of anger for a previous company and boss he worked for.

But this year has also held so many fantastic memories. 

We got to move into a house, instead of staying in an apartment. I got to watch my favorite boy play baseball and soccer. I watched as Lincoln has become proficient in reading, and my heart could burst with how proud of him I am. I got to watch my husband's character shine through as he faced an awful situation, and stood by as he watched him hold his head up and take on a new job that he never thought he'd have. God has provided for us in unimaginable ways. I got to go PRN, work less and be home with Lincoln more. I got to buy a new (to me) car for the first time in my life. We were able to take our first "real" family vacation and I fell in love with the mountains. I also fell in love with reading again. I played countless games of soccer, baseball, and football in the backyard. I've been greeted by my favorite dogs and my favorite humans every time I've come home.

So while 24 held some sad moments, it also held so much more joy than I deserve. And though the hard roads have been plenty, I've never walked them alone. Jesus hasn't given me all I asked for this year, nor has He taken away all my pain, but He has surely given me joy like I never could have imagined. 

In John 1:16, it says "For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace." Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." He has fulfilled those promises to me every single day.

So as 24 comes to a close, I'm excited for what 25 will bring.

Here's to spending all weekend with family, eating way too much cookie cake, and feeling celebrated all weekend long.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What I Read: November

Last month I asked for book recommendations that were different from my norm. You people did a terrible job helping because no one recommended anything. Come. On. People. 

But alas, I did it! I found some books different from my usual haul. This month I read NINE books. Most of them mystery/suspense, but some not. So here are my books this month!


Play Dirty - Sandra Brown

Griff Burkett is an ex-Cowboys football star just out of prison. The Speakman's are the ideal couple, other than the infertility they can't get past. They are highly well off, and hire Burkett. The job Burkett agrees to do for them is top secret, but soon he's a suspect in a murder.

It was a good book, with so many twists and turns. Sandra Brown's novels are always full of endings you don't see coming and this one was no different. Not my favorite of hers, but still great.



If I Stay - Gayle Forman

17 year old Mia and her family are in a tragic accident. Laying in the ICU she watches days pass as she has to make the decision between staying or leaving. The book goes from the present to past to give you a background on Mia and her family.

I can't say a lot because this is a series and I don't want to ruin it. But you want to read this and the next one! So good! 



Where She Went - Gayle Forman

The sequel. I can't give a synopsis because I'll give so much away, but really.. Pick up both of these books! Definitely worth it. 



Into the Water - Paula Hawkins

"A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return."

My take: Once you get the characters straight in your head this book is amazing. I read this one in the car on vacation so I think I was distracted and it took me a while to catch up on the characters. Such a good book - the kind where you can't guess the ending even if you try.  



The Ready-Made Thief - Augustus Rose

"Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the fa├žade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.

Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families. But the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why."

My take: GO READ THIS BOOK. It is phenomenal. The details. The plot. So so good. 



If You Only Knew - Kristan Higgins

 Wedding dress designer Jenny Tate moves back to her hometown after a divorce to be closer to her sister and nieces. She starts to fall for her superintendent, Leo, but he's distant and she can't figure out why. Her sister, Rachel, is going through her own marital problems and Jenny desperately wants to share a family secret to help her.

It's a happy-go-lucky (mostly) story and much different from what I usually read but I actually liked it. I really liked the part of the story with Jenny and Leo. It was sweet, a little Hallmark, but sweet.



Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

Comedian Trevor Noah writes a beautiful memoir about his life. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I loved it even more than I thought I would. It was easily my favorite book I read this month. An eye opener to the things we never realize people deal with. Go grab it for sure. 



A Stranger in the House - Shari Lapena 

Karen Krupp was in a terrible car accident, but has no memory of the events. A man is dead at an abandoned restaurant that Karen was fleeing from. Karen's husband, Tom, doesn't know what to think. Evidence starts piling up to convict Karen. Does Tom know his wife at all? Is the creepy neighbor the killer? Is Karen? 

I initially was going to return this book because the writing was somewhat choppy, but I'm so glad I didn't. It seemed really predictable until it suddenly wasn't what I thought at all. Pick this one up if you like a good suspense novel.



The Bridge - Karen Kingsbury

Summary (taken from the publisher because my summary didn't seem to cut it): Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, but she left her heart back in Tennessee with a man she walked away from five years ago. Ryan Kelly lives in Nashville after a broken engagement and several years on the road touring with a country music duo. At least he can visit The Bridge—the oldest bookstore in historic downtown Franklin—and remember the hours he and Molly once spent there.

For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of middle Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books—even through dismal book sales and the rise of digital books. Then in May, the hundred-year flood swept through Franklin and destroyed nearly every book in the store.

Now the bank is pulling the lease on The Bridge. Despondent and without answers, Charlie considers the unthinkable. Then tragedy strikes, and suddenly, everything changes.
This is the classic Hallmark movie and you will love it! Easily one of my new favorites that I plan on rereading every Christmas. Go get it for yourself!

So there are my books this month! If you want to see past months you can see them here: