Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Wednesday list...

Hello internet! Hello friends!

What I'm reading...
We read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan in my book club a few months ago, and when we were picking our September book one of my friends suggested reading the sequel since all of us had said we were planning to read it anyway. What a brillliant idea! So I just started China Rich Girlfriend  today, and I'm looking forward to a light, fun read (at least, if it's anything like the first book!). I also brought home a giant stack of books from the library yesterday -- not because I have time to read a giant stack, but because I can't help myself! -- and I'm the most excited for Recursion, by Blake Crouch. I don't know much about the story or plot or even the genre, but I've heard it highly recommended several places, so I'm going to give it a shot.

What I'm watching...
Great British Baking Show is back and Jeremy and I have finally started Stranger Things season 3. I also went to the theater last week (my annual both-kids-back-in-school-end-of-summer-closing-ceremony) and saw Peanut Butter Falcon with Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson. Y'all. I loved this movie SO much. It was sad, sweet, hopeful, and heartbreaking all at the same time. It was a layered story that also felt simple and straightforward. Shia was amazing in his role, and the North Carolina Outer Banks setting was captured perfectly. If you get a chance, you should watch it.

Something I'm grateful for...
If you've been around for any length of time you know that my first book releases November 5, and as I start spending more and more time and energy getting ready for that, I am just so, so grateful for book release and everyone who is helping me along the way. I'm also really grateful to have had the opportunity recently to attend a local writers meet up and meet some area writers with a similar point of view, and who were all so interesting, inspiring, and encouraging. Doing something like that with complete strangers is REALLY out of my comfort zone, but it was such a lovely time and I'm glad I talked myself into it.

A little inspiration...
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Wednesday list...

1. What I'm reading...
I started reading the Montmaray Journals, by Michelle Cooper about a month ago, starting with the first book -- A Brief History of Montmaray -- for my August book club. It's historical fiction, set near England during the late 1930s. I say "near" England because the first book takes place on the fictional island kingdom of Montmaray, located off the coast of Spain, but the sequels take place in England (no spoilers!) and the citizens of Montmaray were originally from England in the Middle Ages. The first book starts off pretty slow, but the setting is so vivid and unique, the story gets a little more complex as it goes along, and the characters flesh out more with each chapter. I loved the second book (FitzOsbornes in Exile) and am excited to start the third book of the trilogy. After FitzOsbornes at War, I'm picking up another sequel: China Rich Girlfriend.

2. What I'm listening to...
I have the new release, Dragons, by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors on repeat these days. There are songs that are pure fun, some that are thoughtful, and a few that are sweet and romantic. I love Holcomb's Americana-a little-bit-rock-a little-bit-country sound, and this feels like they're best album yet.

3. Something I'm grateful for...
A good start to kindergarten!

4. A little inspiration...
I came across this G.K. Chesterton quote in a newsletter I subscribe to from children's book author Sally Lloyd Jones, and I think it's really thought provoking. I hope you enjoy it too:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” ― G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Happy Wednesday!


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Wednesday list...

Hello, hi! August is doing its best to smother me under a hot, wet blanket of summer malaise, but so far we survive. Kindergarten starts a week from today, so at the very least our normal routine will get a major shake-up soon. I turned in the final revisions on You Again this week. I feel relieved, nervous, excited. Revising is weird: I started second guessing all of my choices, even the ones that were untouched by editorial suggestions and notes. Who knew I would have the urge to just delete it all and start again! (kidding...sort of).

What I'm reading...
I've had the book A Brief History of Montmaray on my TBR list for so long I forgot where I heard about it or why I put it there. I put it on our list of possible August reads for my book club, so I was really excited when that's the book we chose. It's historical fiction set in the late 1930s in a fictional island kingdom off the coast of England. Irritating characters, a touch gothic, characters clueless in a specific kind of way (living very isolated from the outside world). Not as much resolution as I'd have hoped, but it's the first in a series and I'm definitely going to keep reading.

What I'm watching/listening to....
The second season of Derry Girls is heeeerrrreee!!! In case you missed season 1, Derry Girls is 30 minute Netflix show set in Northern Ireland in the 1990s (during The Troubles). It so perfectly captures the awkwardness of being a teenager, the complicated nature of family and friendship, and all with charm and hilarity. (fair warning: there is a LOT of cursing).

What I'm grateful for....
Air conditioning is the obvious choice here but that doesn't make it any less true.

A little inspiration...
I'm a huge fan of children's author Sally Lloyd-Jones, and she wrote a really thought-provoking blog post recently about creativity and wonder. Here's the link: https://www.sallylloyd-jones.com/the-one-indispensable-tool-to-rely-on-each-day/


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Wednesday list...

Why, hello! Hello from hot, sunny South Texas, where we are unexpectedly experiencing a moment of respite from the "dog's breath" of summer. I am going to do my best to let these two days of lower humidity carry me through August and September. Well, these two days plus air conditioning and plenty of iced coffee.

But enough of that!

What I'm reading...
While we were in Missouri visiting my family, I blew through The Peacock Emporium, by Jojo Moyes. It's not my favorite of Moyes' books (One Plus One, in case you're curious), but it was still enjoyable. Moyes excels at writing layered characters in complex situations, in a way that feels true to life.

Currently, I'm reading a Woodstock memoir for review, and a romance set in London (still in my Anglophile mood, if you can't tell) with a very Bridget Jones feel. I'm only a couple of chapters in, so jury's out on that one.

What I'm watching...
I finally pressed play on the first season of the BBC/Masterpiece Theater show Poldark Historical drama, fantastic characters and cast, a stunning setting (anyone fancy a trip to Cornwall, England with me?)...I'm loving it.

And I'm really looking forward to some TV watching time with Jeremy soon, because I'm itching to watch the third season of Stranger Things and the new season/revival of Veronica Mars.

Something I'm grateful for...
The kids and I got to spend the week after camp in Missouri with my family, and it was just the absolute best. I got to spend lots of time with my family, the kids got to play their hearts out with their Missouri cousins, we went swimming and walking and to the park, and I even got in some face time with a few old friends.

A little inspiration...
Today's little bit of inspiration is sponsored once again by my current poetry phase. It's an excerpt from a poem by Tanner Olson, from his new book I'm All Over the Place. 

And I'm chasing the heels of 30 and I thought I'd have life figured out by now, but
I've got more questions than answers.
And all my answers create fresh questions, a constant give and take, a
swirling surrounding the pounding within.
Yet, locked within, faith outweighs both, stretching me closer to forever,
a restful peace growing beyond the deep.

~ excerpt from "Welcome" by Tanner Olson




Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Wedneday list...

You may or may not have noticed a slight slow down in activity on the ol' blog here. Summertime isn't as disruptive to our routine yet as families with kids in full time school, but it's still a different kind of rhythm around here lately.

I'll admit though that the best disruption to the regular routine has been novel editing. Sounds weird, right? Who loves editing their own work? (not me!) But it's a good disruption because it means we're getting that much closer to book birthday! I still can't believe it most days.

Never fear though, in the midst of summer chaos, travel, and editing, there's still plenty of good stuff to share...

1. What I'm reading...
This month the theme was quality over quantity. I read The Bird King, by G. Willow Wilson; Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen; and Two Like Me and You, by Chad Alan Gibbs. The Bird King was an atmospheric, fairy-tailesque fantasy set in the time of the Inquisition. While the themes felt a bit heavy handed at times, the characters were fascinating, layered, and really compelling; the  setting was vivid and unique; and ultimately I really enjoyed it. If you're looking for something more contemporary and fun, Two Like Me and You had me laughing out loud and compulsively turning the pages. Two teenagers help an World War II veteran escape from his nursing home and travel to Paris to find his long-lost love. I mean. It was fun and fast-paced -- a perfect summer read. I'm trying to work my way through my physical book stack, and have books by Matthew Quick and Jojo Moyes to pick up next.

2. What I'm watching/listening to...
I am currently listening to a lot of Joy Williams (formerly of The Civil Wars) newest album Front Porch. It has a lovely, mellow, lazy river vibe, and I think Joy Williams' voice is just beautiful.

3. Something I'm grateful for...
The kids have been taking swiming lessons this summer, and I am so grateful not only for the resources to send them to classes, but also for how much they are enjoying it and how much they're learning. They are noticeably more comfortable in the water this summer than they were last year.

4. A little inspiration...

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." - Galatians 6:9-10


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Wednesday list...London edition

Hello!
A week ago today Jeremy and I were enjoying our last day of a week-long trip to London (minus one day in Reims, France), and it just seemed appropriate to savor the experience in this way...

But first -- a HUGE shout-out to my parents and my niece Grace who watched our littles while  we were away and made the trip possible. By all accounts everyone had a fantastic time, and it's such a blessing to know the kids got some quality grandparent and cousin time. I know not everyone has family who can or will do this kind of thing, and I am immensely grateful for mine.

Bonus shout-out to Chad and Christin Paradowski who hosted us in their flat -- staying in a proper neighborhood is the way to go sometimes, especially in a big city like London.

1. Food is a big part of traveling for me -- new foods, unexpected finds, or just relishing delicious favorites in new places. Memorable experiences include steak and ale pie, pints, Indian food, mango lassi, pastries, tea, cappuccinos. The neighborhood pub, London's oldest pub, Dishoom London, Saravaana Bhavan, and the most delightful and delicious French restaurant we could have dreamt up (that creme brulee...).

2. Choral evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral was a highlight of the week for me. Not only was it beautiful, but it was meaningful as well. The priest made a comment that really stood out to me: inviting us into a "river of worship" that has gone on centuries before us, and will continue long after we are gone. What a good reminder of the scope of God's kingdom.

3. The British Museum and British Library are favorites, fascinating and inspiring. One fun thing that stood out at the British Museum was looking at a display of an ancient Greek civilization in an era that inspired one of my favorite book series (The Queen's Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner).

4. The World Cup. Going to a World Cup soccer game has been on my bucket list for several years, and the US women's team is on fire right now, so what a time to get to go!

5. One of my goals on this trip was to visit at least one bookstore, and the internet delivered a fantastic recommendation in the used bookstore Skoob Books, everything you want from a good used bookstore. In a similar vein, a wrong turn led us to Orc's Nest, the most delightful game store, a tiny, one-room-with-a-loft game store crammed with everything from family board games to Dungeons and Dragons books and everything in between.

6. The right pace. I could go on and on, but I'll end it here: this trip reminded me of how much I enjoy a trip when I remember to balance doing things with simply enjoying the place I'm at, realizing that I'm never going to be able to do ALL THE THINGS, so why not take the time to enjoy the things I do get to do. Take the time to linger over a good meal, take a walk along the river, and sit in a park on a sunny day (thank you Greenwhich for being beautiful).

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to travel with Jeremy, and can't wait to dream and plan our next adventure!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Wednesday list...

1. What I'm reading...
It's been a good couple of weeks for reading, both in quality and quantity. The first was Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal, a charming Regency-era novel set in a world of magic (think, Jane Austen with magic). The good news is that it's the first in a series (The Glamorous Histories), and I'm itching to pick up book number two. The second book I absolutely devoured was Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Station 11 opens on the first day of the apocalypse: the day a super-virus becomes a pandemic that wipes out 99 percent of the world's population. It's a character-driven, atmospheric story about the lives of a handful of loosely connected people, both in the weeks leading up to Day 1, and the years afterward. My favorite part is the time spent with The Traveling Symphony, a troupe of musicians and actors post-apocalypse holding on to art in the middle of a time where art could be scene as unimportant, summed up in the slogan they've adopted from a Star Trek quote: "Survival is insufficient." Next on the docket is more Glamorous Histories and a historical fiction novel I picked up at the local author fair a few weeks ago.

2. What I'm watching...
Sneaky Pete season 3 dropped on Amazon Prime a couple of weeks ago, and Jeremy and I wasted no time in watching it. I love this series so much, and season 3 was just as fantastic as I hoped. I read a review that said each hour long episode feels like 15 minutes, and that is so true. The writing is tight, the acting is superb, and the stories balance the craziness of the con with things like family drama, what it means to love, the fallout from bad choices.

3. What I'm grateful for...
Today, I'm grateful that I got to run outside (as opposed to on the treadmill) this morning, even in the summer-time South Texas humidity. On the other hand, I am so grateful to have a treadmill now, because in the summer it's quite difficult for me to keep to a consistent running schedule and the treadmill makes it possible for me to run more than once or twice a week.

4. A little inspiration...

I discovered this Instagram account @writtentospeak (otherwise known as Tanner Olson) during the writing challenge I participated in a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. Olson's poems are brief, but really thoughtful. You can also check out his work on his web site www.writtentospeak.com.