Monday, January 20, 2014

Books & Blessings

It's been a while since I did a random post about books, and I wanted to share some of my favorite reads from last year, as well as my tentative book list for this year.  Last year my goal was to read 24 books--12 fiction and 12 nonfiction.   Between books and ebooks (some shorter than others) I read at least 33 books (a few ebooks may have slipped through the cracks).  If you're interested, you can see my Pinterest board of the books I read in 2013 here.  I thought it would be fun to post my top 5 favorites from the year, so here goes:

This book seemed to be popping up everywhere I looked last year, even though it's not a "new" one . . . but it was recommended by the guest speaker at our ladies' brunch at church, some Facebook friends were also reading through it, another friend at church was . . . and I decided I needed to, as well!  I'd had it for over a year (won it in a giveaway) but hadn't gotten around to reading it yet.  Boy, was I glad I did!  It was an excellent read, and very convicting.  I love Nancy Leigh DeMoss's practical wisdom, and this was my favorite book of hers that I've read so far. It really helped me to focus on being thankful in the day-to-day.  Highly recommended!

Desperate is another excellent read, particularly for young moms like myself.  I actually still need to do a full review of this book--I planned to do that about a year ago when I read it, but kept forgetting!  I really liked how this was written as a "question and answer" book between a young mom (Sarah Mae) and an older mentor (Sally Clarkson), and it was really helpful for me.  In fact, I think this is one that I should go back and re-read from time to time; it was just really encouraging and uplifting.

Do you come "unglued" sometimes? I know I sure do.  Emotions can be tricky and difficult things, for sure.  This book by Lysa Terkeurst was so, so good.  This is one of the few books I've actually bought for my Kindle (I mostly get freebies) and it was well worth it.  In fact, this is one of those books that I think would really be better to have a "real" copy of, to be able to mark it up and do some underlining.  And it's definitely worth re-reading, also.  I love Lysa's style and practical application of Scripture.  Another book of hers that I've read is Made to Crave, which I also highly recommend.

This year I discovered Trina Holden's blog and also read her book, Embracing Beauty.  I loved this one!  (Her blog is excellent as well.)  This is a smallish book but such a good read.  It's a refreshing look at how God created beauty, and how we are also made to love beauty, because we are made in the image of God.  Trina includes plenty of her own style tips, and while some of her personal style is different than mine, I still found lots of inspiration, and I especially liked the tips on thrift shopping to build a wardrobe.  In fact, I've done quite a bit more thrifting this year (with good results!) thanks in part to the inspiration found in this book.

I had the privilege of pre-reading Crystal Paine's new book (releasing tomorrow!!) and it is fantastic.  Look for a more detailed review coming later today or tomorrow!  This is another one I'll be re-reading, and would love to own a hard copy of (my review copy is for Kindle) due to all the marking up and note taking I'd like to do.

I'm planning to read at least 24 books again in 2014.  While I don't have a complete list yet (and it's subject to change anyway, depending what I get to review free this year!), here's a pile that I am planning to tackle (thanks to Christmas gifts and gift money, and a friend who lent me the whole O'Malley series, which I am slowly working my way through!).
Last year I wrote out my big tentative reading list, and of those books I ended up only actually reading 5 of the nonfiction ones and 1 of the fiction ones!  Everything else was stuff that came along that interested me during the year. It'll be interesting to see how many of these I actually read this year.

I also wanted to share an extra special way a friend blessed me recently.  Remember back in this post how I mentioned my love for Celtic music, and how I would like to learn to play the tin whistle?  Well. On our first library visit after the new year, my sweet librarian friend Susan surprised me with the gift of  this:
{sorry for the weird washed-out photo quality of my hands!}
She bought it in Ireland!!  Isn't that too cool?  I've been having so much fun playing around with it!!  It seems similar to learning the recorder (which I did many moons ago in elementary school) but obviously with a prettier sound. :)  It's really neat because I was actually thinking about buying a tin whistle with some of my Christmas money, but instead, I got surprised with a free one!  Susan, if you're reading this, thanks again so much--I am really having fun with it. :)  (I'm not sure my family is having quite as much fun listening to my attempts . . . but thankfully they've been kind so far. ;))  She also gave me an instruction book, and I've found some helpful video lessons on Youtube as well (I'm a visual learner!), and hopefully before long I'll be able to progress beyond "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Frere Jacques." :)

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