I misjudged this one from the cover, but once I started reading this sweet story I was hooked!

#COLLABOREADS: A Book that Became a Movie

#COLLABOREADS: A Book that Became a Movie

This book didn't blow me away, but after reading it, I think it will make a great teen movie that I'm looking forward to seeing!



This month, I listened to L'Engle read me her classic young adult novel... and I have to say, it wasn't what I remembered from my childhood.

#COLLABOREADS: Green With Envy

#COLLABOREADS: Green With Envy

This book is eye-opening, heartbreaking, cringe-inducing... but also compelling, fascinating, informative, and a MUST-read for meat-eaters and vegans alike.

#COLLABOREADS: Love at First Sight

#COLLABOREADS: Love at First Sight

This book's cover was love at first sight, but the story inside? Not so much...

#COLLABOREADS: A Familiar Favorite

#COLLABOREADS: A Familiar Favorite

The story of this one just wrecks me. Every time. The book of Hosea in the Bible is compelling as it is, and this retelling of that story just blows me away.



We read "fall" books (okay, I took creative liberty with this one, that makes it fun!) and today, we're linking up to share our thoughts! Join us!



This is one of those books I felt like I needed to read... but I have to say, I wish I hadn't. 

#COLLABOREADS: A Book for a Better You

#COLLABOREADS: A Book for a Better You

The idea of a book focused on building strong inner character fascinated me. The stories he told, of influential people throughout time, were intriguing and like mini-biographies that were well-written, fun to read, enlightening, personal, and real.

What I Read in October

October, you're just a wonderful month. I love your weather and your changing colors and your general sense of coziness. I don't love your famous holiday, but that's a story for another time. I read 5 books during your days this year, and they were some pretty different ones than what I read normally. Thanks for mixing things up!

Here's what I read this October:

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. // "A wave of intense happiness washed over me, and I told myself to carry this moment as a talisman of a time in my life when I was both truly content and lucky enough to realize it."

This book isn't my normal kind of read, but after seeing it recommended by friends like Bailey, I decided to give it a go. I surprisingly enjoyed this lighthearted, easy read. I especially liked all the London/England references and reminiscing on my own summer spent living there, so that made it even more fun. This definitely isn't a profoundly amazing piece of literature, but it would make for a great Saturday read by a fire or curled up on a cozy couch or on a plane while traveling. If you see it at your library, grab it and enjoy (but probably don't spend money on it because it isn't one you'll re-read)!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. // "Bring forth what is within you, then, whether it succeeds or fails. Do it whether the final product (your souvenir) is crap or gold. Do it whether the critics love you or hate you-- or whether the critics have never heard of you and perhaps will never hear of you. Do it whether people get it or don't get it. It doesn't have to be perfect and you don't have to be Plato. It's all just an instinct and an experiment and a mystery, so begin. Begin anywhere. Preferably right now. And if greatness should ever accidentally stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work."

This book IS PURE GOLD. Let me shout that from the rooftops and get your attention so you'll buy it IMMEDIATELY. It is so good. Her podcast is equally amazing. I shared so many more of my gushing thoughts about this book HERE.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. // "Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it."

I read this one for October's #COLLABOREADS -- check out my full review here!

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. // "If the gospel isn't good news for everybody, then it isn't good news for anybody."

Okay. So Rob Bell. He's a controversial guy in the Christian world. I know that. I've heard the arguments from both sides (he's gone off the deep end / he's actually right on and everyone's just afraid of him, etc). I've never given him a chance, so I decided it was about time I did. The verdict? I'm not a fan. I liked parts of this book, I'll admit. Some of it was refreshingly real. Most of it was a little wacky to me, and there were some parts that actually made me angry because I disagreed with them so strongly. All in all? I won't read more from him, I feel like I have a clearer picture of who he is and what he stands for, and it just isn't my style or my same belief system. I do strongly believe in reading things you don't agree with though, so I'm glad I put myself up to this challenge. 

When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd. // "Waiting is both passive and passionate. It's a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely. It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision."

Kidd is the one who wrote bestsellers like The Secret Life of Bees, but this book is something totally different from her. It's deeply personal, journeying through a phase in her life characterized by much waiting and change and evolving and growth. I read this one slowly, picking it up periodically and always finding that what I read resonated with me in that moment. This book is probably more geared toward middle-aged or older women (as that was Kidd's age when writing through it) but I found it to be just as relevant to my life as a younger twenty-something still. The metaphor of a cocoon repeats throughout the book and there are many other images and parallels she describes that have still stuck with me in poignant ways. This one is a really good one if you feel like you're in any in-between, waiting season at all. 

What are you reading lately?! 

What I Read in September

September, you were full of mostly good reads (with one exception) and I'm so glad for that! There's something about the first fall days that just makes me want to curl up with books but also be outside with all the cool breezes and falling leaves. I love this season and I already know it's going to be such a sweet one. Enjoy my little reviews of what I read in September!


For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker. // "Folks who thrive in God's grace give grace easily, but the self-critical person becomes others-critical."

So, I've never read anything from Hatmaker before. I've seen some of her posts on FB (they're very popular) and usually I don't like them...but I kept seeing people post about this book and how much they loved it. Eventually, I decided to give it a shot. Overall, it was okay. I liked bits and pieces, and got a few good nuggets out of it...but I just don't love her writing style. The humor and snark is okay in some places, but it usually just annoys me. Since it's more of a collection of essays than anything else, there wasn't a whole lot to really keep me super engaged or interested, but it was a quick read, a light read, and good for a Saturday in a coffeeshop, so I can't really complain. Girl's got a massive following, so other people must just love her style a whole lot!


Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. // "I hope you aren’t holding an ice cream cone against your chest, ’cause your heart just warmed—and your ice cream just melted."

Okay, confession time. I could NOT finish this book. I gave it a shot, I really did. I got to page 172, but I just couldn't do it. I don't know if it's that I'm used to Aziz being pure humor, and this was a weird mix of stats and facts and research with humor thrown in, or what, but I just didn't like it. I thought the topic would interest me since obviously I live in today's world and am single so the way the dating world works these days affects me...but I didn't find the research or his findings to be that interesting. Oh well. Aziz, try again with the whole book writing thing and I'll give you another shot, but maybe stick to being funny since it's what you're really good at.


Rising Strong by Brene Brown. // "Rumbling with our story and owning our truth in order to write a new, more courageous ending transforms who we are and how we engage with the world."

I'm basically the biggest fan of Brene Brown that there is. (Probably not true at all because everyone I know who has read her loves her...but anyway.) I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, and it did not disappoint. After reading Daring Greatly, I loved how this book took her thoughts to a deeper and richer place and added more richness and research to the conversations around shame and vulnerability and courage and owning our stories. The cover says "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up." We all fall and we all we fail and really, we just all need to read this book and rise stronger together. I can't recommend it enough. I would buy it for everyone and their dogs if I could.


I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. // "When someone takes away your pens you realize quite how important education is."

I read this book for #COLLABOREADS, so check out my full review on that post!

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. // "The sunset you see is always better than the one you don’t. More stars are always better than less."

This was a library find, and it was featured on a table and I liked the cover, so I grabbed it. This book was TOTALLY unexpected and I LOVED it. About 50 or so pages in, I was getting ready to give up, because it was a slow start and it hadn't hooked me. I'm so glad I kept going though. There is a major reveal that was a total plot game-changer and was nothing like I've ever read before. Read this if you want to know more -- it might spoil it a bit though! This book was surprising, intriguing, a bit haunting, eye-opening, nuanced, heart-breaking, and well-written. It brought to light a subject matter I had never considered before (animals used in science/research, etc), and in a way that made it shockingly real. It confirmed all of my vegan stances and really reminded me to check EVERYTHING to make sure nothing is tested on animals at all. Highly recommend this one if you want a different type of fiction read, but be warned that it might forever alter your worldview and it also might make you cry.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. // "First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered."

THIS BOOK. Couldn't put it down. It was sort of post-apocalyptic, but then not, so riveting, so fascinating, so well-written...I loved this one. The library did me so well this month! Imagining a world like this, when twenty-first century civilization like we know it comes to a total end, was so intriguing to me. This book wasn't depressing like The Road or similar end of the world books are, but instead made me really grateful for the life and world we have, and also really struck by the human experience and what we all would do if everything changed. Grab this one! Do it. It's so good.

Any must-reads you recommend?!

#COLLABOREADS: Back to School

We're baaaaaaack! Did you miss us?! Every month, I just get so excited that Amber and I get to host this little link-up and share our books with you and hear all about what you're reading (and hopefully loving!) -- it's just the best.

If you've never heard about #COLLABOREADS, welcome to the fourth month of our fun little online book club! We pick a theme every month (so everyone's reading different books) and then all link up and share our thoughts (with a handy-dandy R.E.A.D.S. acronym usually) and link up and become BFFs. You can read more about this whole thing here.

This month's theme was a book about "back to school", and I chose I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Wow. What a book.


What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? Malala's story, from the very first page to the very last page, is powerful. I kept having to remind myself that she was YOUNG. She was a middle-schooler when most of the story took place. It's amazing to me how brave, mature, worldly, passionate, and dedicated she was to a cause and a life so much bigger than herself, even when her own life was in total chaos and confusion. I was blown away by her courage.


How did you relate to/care for the characters? I fell in love with sweet Malala from the beginning of this book and felt so much compassion for her and so much empathy for how challenging so many things in her life were because of where she lived and who was in power. I wanted to give her a huge hug and a high five and all the books and all the humble gratitude for the ways she opened my eyes to everything I take for granted as an American woman.

What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns? This book, since it's the story of Malala's life, was less twisty and turny than some fiction books, but it was still gripping and engaging throughout. At times, there were passages that seemed dry or didn't hold my interest very well, but they still were necessary to set the stage of her circumstances growing up. The way she opened the book with the most dramatic (and well-known) tragedy of her life and then flashed back to give context was very smart in terms of plot line, I thought.


What other books are like this one? I remember reading a book called Princess by Jean Sasson in high school, and it struck me as similar as it was a story about a Saudi Arabian woman who chose to risk her life to speak out about the lives of women in her country. There were many parallels between Princess and I Am Malala in terms of both of the women choosing to secretly share their stories with authors/reporters/journalists despite the dangers of doing so, because they so desperately wanted to see women have more freedoms and lead better lives. I'm inspired and challenged by women like that.


What did you think of it? I think it was a powerful and simple but beautiful cover-- seeing Malala's face (with that Mona Lisa smirk and stare!) connected me with her even more. The colors are striking and bright, which I think stands in stark but good contrast with some of the darkness of her story and shows that she is truly radiant and a bright light in the world.


How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend? All five! Yep, I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet heard of Malala or read her book (because I know I was SO behind the times with this one!).


Share your post here, and go leave love in the comments for everyone else! You'll probably add a bunch of books to your to-read lists too, so get those ready.

Also, make sure you read Amber's review HERE! Because she's the other half of this whole operation and always talks about books so beautifully.

And finally, for NEXT MONTH:

The topic for October is "Thriller/Horror pre-2010" and we hope you'll find a book published before 2010 (just as a fun added challenge, and because we all know the popular thrillers of recent years... cough cough Gone Girl...), read it throughout October, and link up with us again on October 26!