Friday, September 12, 2014

The night before.




I started running 2 years ago and chronicled my journey here. How excited I was to be able to run 3 miles without stopping, the struggles I had, and the pounds I lost. However, my true love of running didn't show up until just about a year ago when it also became my form of cheap therapy. All of my insecurities and stresses poured out of me while I was running and so I just ran. A lot.  

I felt so much better when I was moving, but I don't think I ever truly let go of those things that were powering my legs to go. I just used them as fuel. Every day stresses, major insecurities, hurts, family drama, work stress, etc. I'd run and get out the frustration and anger, but it would always show back up, worming its way into my optimistic nature and positive attitude and leaving me mentally tired. 

This training has been amazing. Hard -- brutal some days -- but so worth it. I'm in better shape than I've ever been and most of all, I'm proud of myself. I haven't felt that way in a very long time and I know I deserve it. I've worked so hard and have fought against asthma, humidity, heat, time constraints, and my own brain telling me I'm not good enough, but I am. I am good enough for this. 

Tomorrow, when I reach that finish line (and I WILL reach the finish line) in all of my hot pink glory, I'm finally letting it go. I'm leaving it all out there on that course. It's going to be one of the hardest things I've ever physically done, but one of my very best friends, an ultra-marathoner, sent me a text today that said "when your legs and body get tired, run with your heart. Run with your spirit. You know why you're running, so just do it." And that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to run. And I'm going to run for me. 




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo


Nearing thirty and trying to avoid the inescapable fact that they have failed to live up to everyone’s expectations and their own aspirations, cousins and childhood best friends Lizzie, Elyse, and Isobel seek respite in an oddly-shaped, three-story house that sits on a bluff sixty feet above the Mississippi.


As they work to restore the almost condemned house, each woman faces uncomfortable truths about their own failings. Lizzie seeks answers to a long-held family secret about her father in her grandmother’s jumble of mementos and the home’s hidden spaces. Elyse’s obsession with an old flame leads her to a harrowing mistake that threatens to destroy her sister’s wedding, and Isobel’s quest for celebrity tempts her to betray confidences in ways that would irreparably damage her two cousins.

Told in three parts from the perspective of each of the women, this sharply observed account of the restoration of a house built out of spite, but filled with memories of love is also an account of friendship and how relying on each other’s insights and strengths provides the women a way to get what they need instead of what they want. (description from publisher)

Check out the rest of the tour here

You can also head to Santo's website Facebook page or Twitter

I loved The Roots of the Olive Tree and can't wait to read this one! I was thrilled to be part of this tour, but just couldn't get the book finished in time. If this one is just as good as her first, you'll enjoy it for sure. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood

I'm so sad to see this series end. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I first picked up Born Wicked 2 years ago, since witches aren't normally my thing, but I fell in love with the world Jessica Spotswood had created and the characters she nurtured into such strong women. When Star Cursed came out last year, I was happily at the launch party (complete with cupcakes for readers and a tiara for the author), and now comes Sisters' Fate.

I read this book in one day, despite my attempts to make it last. It's filled with action as Cate attempts to fight against the Brotherhood, rebuild her relationship with Finn, and save her sisters from destruction - both self-inflicted - and not and the emotional hits just kept on coming. I couldn't put the book down once I started, so I just gave in and read it all through. Such beauty in the writing, yet the plot twists just kept coming.

Can we just talk about Cate and Finn for a moment? This is not your typical teen-book romance. It had depth, crazy complexities, and yet felt entirely realistic despite all the magical elements floating around. Their relationship is one I cheered for and may have even shed a few tears for throughout this series and I really love how Spotswood ties things up. Sorry for being a bit vague, but no spoilers here. Just read the series!

I love Spotswood's writing style and her easy ability to pull you into the story from the very first pages. I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

All I Know and Love review



For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a contented domestic life in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel's twin brother and sister-in-law have ben killed in a Jerusalem bombing, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed. 


The deceased couple have left behind two young children and their shocked and grieving families must decide who will raise six-year-old Gal and baby Noam. When it becomes clear that Daniel's brother and sister-in-law had wanted Matt and Daniel to be the children's guardians, the two men find themselves confronted by challenges that strike at the heart of their relationship. (Description via Goodreads)

Such a heavy, heavy read, but so beautifully done. I was pulled into Matt and Daniel's story from the very first pages and found myself crying along with them as they suffer a terrible tragedy and their entire lives are turned upside down.

The characters each had a special sort of depth that is missing in a lot of books and I appreciated the realistic flaws in each. Each character was still likable, despite the flaws, which I feel is the mark of a true-to-life character.  I can't stop thinking about the horrors they faced and the crazy circumstances Matt had to endure in the midst of the tragedy. He was totally out of place in Israel, with Daniel's family, with everything really, and it just felt perfect. That's how life is... messy. 

Brimming with topics for discussion (religion, same sex marriage, family drama, politics, etc), I can definitely see this one being used for book clubs with huge success. It's a long read, but so, so good. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the review copy! Check out the rest of the tour here

Friday, July 11, 2014

Manhunt by Kate Messner

I love Kate Messner and I love this series! Manhunt is the third book, following Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek and I think it's the best one yet. This time around, the young members of the super secret Silver Jaguar Society are tasked with finding the stolen Mona Lisa painting, which takes them all over Paris.

The setting was well-described and appropriately detailed for the desired age group. Lots of cool Parisian landmarks were used in the plot and it definitely made me want to take a trip. I can't imagine reading this and not wanting to hop on a jet plane to that city!

The characters were complex, diverse (#weneeddiversebooks) and realistic making for great detectives that kids are going to love reading about. Hopefully, when they've finished the story, they'll want to look up more cool facts about Paris. I love when fiction encourages non-fiction research.

If this is your first Kate Messner book, definitely check out her others.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy!


Friday, June 27, 2014

2 new Christian reads

I've been spending a lot of time with my Bible lately and in books that are an encouragement to me as both a Christian and a woman. They're my refreshment after a long day with a cranky toddler or even just a normal, happy day. I need to be in the Word and these two books are my most recent "refreshing" reads. 


Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan is all about saying "yes" to the things that typically scare you and take a true leap of faith. It was a great reminder at taking care of the things we have and not taking them for granted, as well as how others are living without many of our luxuries and we're called to care for those with less. 



Jumping into the adventure our Creator has planned for us is essential -- but much easier said than done. Bryan did an excellent job at using personal experience to inspire. 


Living Life Undaunted by Christine Caine has quickly become my new favorite devotional. It contains 365 readings to challenge us to help change the world. She is an incredibly powerful speaker and has a great writing style -- simple, but direct. I love opening this up with my Bible each morning to see what Caine has in store for me to chew on. 

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the chance to review these fantastic books. I hope to be featuring more from them in the near future! 



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A beach book giveaway!

I just returned from 4 glorious days at the beach with my friends. It was a much needed mama-break and I enjoyed every single minute of doing almost nothing except lounging in the sand with my book.  SO relaxing!


Though I really enjoyed my alone time, I know Elliott would love the beach, so I'm hoping to take him to a closer one sometime this summer. We've been reading a lot of books about the beach lately and our favorite has been Duck & Goose Go the the Beach by Tad Hills. Who doesn't love this sweet pair of friends??


In their latest adventure, the excited pair head to the beach where Goose loves the sand and the surf... but, poor Duck is a little scared. It's the perfect blend of sweet and silly and kids will laugh all through the antics of these two crazy birds. 

For us, it's also a great intro for Elliott as to what life at the beach might be like. Sand, big waves, little tide pools, etc. The illustrations are fantastic, as Hills' always are, and he loved laughing at Goose being so silly. 

Random House has kindly sent an extra book and some Duck & Goose goodies to give away to one of you! Leave a comment on this post by Friday night and I'll pick a winner Saturday morning. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you! U.S. only please.