Weekend Coffee Share 8/12/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting at my library.  I’d be sipping on a mocha with an extra shot of caffeine that I picked up on the way to work.  It’s a slow morning… I’ve been here over an hour and only five people have come and gone.  Thank goodness, you’re here to divert me!

It’s crazy that summer is almost over!  It always goes by way too quickly.  My August is turning out to be very busy.  Between weddings and out-of-town commitments, my weekends are almost all booked.  When I get off work today, I’m heading down to Rochester to spend the weekend with L’Abri friends.  I’ve wanted to visit them all summer, but haven’t had the chance until now.  Next weekend, I’m taking off work to go on a retreat with the church my family has been attending.

I’ve had multiple cousins get married this summer–one was last weekend.  Is it just me, or are family weddings the most awkward of them all?  I’m not close with my dad’s side of the family, so it’s always uncomfortable spending time with them.  I’m one of the youngest and was painfully shy as a child, which didn’t help forge good relationships with my cousins.  Despite that, the wedding was really nice, there was an open bar, and fantastic cake.  And I learned that some of my cousins (and their significant others) are actually pretty cool!  So that was a win. Continue reading

What I’m Reading 8/7/17

Since I last did one of these, I’ve started writing short, one paragraph reactions in a notebook every time I finish a book.  I do so much reading that stories often blend together and, when I come to do these kind of posts, I forget details.  I’m finding that I really enjoy processing books in this way–it helps me express my opinions and give the experience closure.  In addition, I’m also adding star ratings, just for fun.

I hope you enjoy my list of recent reads!  Have you read any of them?  What did you think?  What have you been reading lately?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

5/5 stars

When I reached the end of this book, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  I rarely give books five-star ratings, but this series was absolute perfection.  All six main characters are distinct, fully, fleshed out, and deeply relatable.  They feel like real people–deeply flawed and broken and beautiful–and I love them all so, so much.  I can’t help being in awe of Bardugo’s planning skills–there are so many character arcs, schemes, plots, and back-stabbing… how does she juggle it all?  And given how complex it all is, how the heck does she manage to pull it off?!  This book sealed the deal: Bardugo is a top-notch writer and I will gladly read anything she publishes.


Geekerella by Ashley Poston

4/5 stars

This YA book has been on my radar for months and I finally got my hands on a copy.  It combines two of my deep loves: fairytale retellings and fandom.  I found the story delightful and endearing–the plot familiar, but a comforting kind of familiar.  More than anything, I was reminded of the movie “A Cinderella Story” with Hillary Duff–only with more cosplay and a pumpkin-themed vegan food truck.  It was a clever, fresh retelling of one of my favorite fairytales.  And, oh, how I wish that Starfield was a real show–it sounds like something I would love to watch.


The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

4.5/5 stars

This was easily one of the best YA contemporaries I’ve read in a long while.  Lately, I’ve found it harder and harder to relate to that corner of the genre.  This book, though, hit home in so many ways.  It’s about a Christian girl who, after discovering that her mom’s cancer has returned, spends her summer as a counselor at a camp for troubled youth.  There, she wrestles with her faith and learns about life, love, and friendship.  The book is about growing up, discovering yourself, and allowing your worldview to grow and change.  Although our circumstances are different, I deeply related with Lucy.  I spent several summers camp counseling, so the exhausting pace of her days was familiar.  What I love about this book is that, while Lucy questions and struggles with her faith, she doesn’t walk away from it.  It’s really hard to write about faith journeys in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy and Lord handles Lucy’s journey so, so well.  Her faith shifts into something new, but it doesn’t go away.  The book also features a rich array of diverse characters and I adored the friendships Lucy forms.  They reminded me of the friendships I forged in my own camp years.  This is a book that doesn’t shy away from life’s biggest questions–it leans into hard questions, tough situations, and embraces the challenges of life.  I’m thankful for books like these–books that act as mirrors to our own experiences.


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What I’ve Been Reading 7/25/17

It’s time for another exploration of my recent reads.  I’ve been pretty spoiled by some of the books on this list–I rarely give out five star ratings on Goodreads, but there are some titles worthy of that honor in here.

Enjoy–and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading lately in the comments!


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This book has been on my radar for a LONG time–it was just a matter of getting to it.  Well, I’m currently listening to it on audiobook and HOLY CRAP, HOW HAVE I BEEN MISSING OUT ON THIS?  The subject matter isn’t one that immediately sucks me in (which is why it has taken so long to pick up), but dang.  Once I got past the first few chapters, I was absolutely hooked.  What strikes me about this book is the excellent characterization.  It features a variety of characters and switches points of view constantly, but each voice is distinct.  Each character is fully-realized, which makes them feel so real.  Bardugo slowly unveils their stories, giving us hints and glimpses at their pasts and their ambitions with each page.  It makes driving to work an absolute treat!  I’m already dreading reaching the end of the audiobook, but I know I’ll be moving on to Crooked Kingdom straight away.

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

Gosh, WHY do I keep reading Dickerson’s books?  I’ve read almost everything she’s published and, even though I don’t love her stories, they’re enjoyable.  I love fairytale retellings, and Dickerson’s are subtle.  After the mess that was this one, I think I might throw in the towel.  Her stories are all formulaic, but the formula is definitely wearing thin.  Dickerson’s protagonists are always beautiful, kind, compassionate, selfish, pious, and BORING.  Her side characters have zero depth.  It’s like watching paper dolls act on a puppet show stage, then fall into a puddle and crumble apart.  I’m also almost insulted by how heavy-handed Dickerson is with her representation of Christianity.  Female leads are always quoting scripture, praying, and longing to someday be rich enough to own a Bible translated into German.  It’s as if Dickerson expects that, by making her women models of Christian femininity, that makes them good characters.  Um, no.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

I talked about Schwab’s first book in this series, A Darker Shade of Magic, a month ago.  While I really enjoyed that book, I fell head-over-heels in love with this one.  I think this might be because I listened to it on audiobook, which meant that my reading was slower and more deliberate.  Schwab is excellent at world building–in the first book, she establishes the different Londons.  In this book, Schwab takes a new turn.  She expands the world of Red London through a magical tournament, which reminded me a lot of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter.  The tournament introduces the different empires and peoples, as well as expands on how magic functions and how each culture relates differently to it.  Schwab also continued to establish her characters, who have nestled their way deep into my heart.  Delilah Bard (who I found likable, but flighty and kind of annoying in the first book) is now making her way to my all-time favorite characters list.  I’m eagerly waiting for my hold on the third book on audio to come through at the library so I can continue.

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Weekend Coffee Share 7/1/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting in my library.  I’d be sitting at my usual perch behind the circulation desk blinking sleepily at you over a my Shakespeare mug, which is filled with lemon ginger tea.  Work is quiet today–the usual patrons are settled and happy on the public computers–so I have time to chat.

Can you believe it’s already July?!  Summer is going by WAY too quickly!

On Tuesday, I lead a Marshmallow Engineering STEM activity at the library.  I got to work obnoxiously early that morning, giving me time to run around town picking up last minute supplies.  I had no idea how many people to expect.  In the end, there were around fifteen kids and their parents.  I lead them through some basic exercises and challenges before giving them free reign to build anything they wanted with marshmallows and toothpicks.  It was so much fun!  Everyone had an absolute blast and, when the event wrapped up, all came into the library to do the various scavenger hunts and games I have set up.  It’s days like this one where I can’t believe how lucky I am–I get paid to play with kids!  I get paid to load them up with marshmallows and send them home to their parents all sugared up.  Continue reading

What I’ve Been Reading…

Things have been busy in my corner of the universe lately and, while the reading hasn’t stopped, the recording of it definitely has.

In my reading update posts, I normally do an Inbox (what I’m about to read), an Outbox (what I’ve recently finished), and sometimes add a Currently Reading section.  Because I haven’t done one of these in a month or so, I’m going to switch things up and talk about all the things I’ve finished.

Over the past couple of weeks, soooo many of the books I’ve been excited for have come in for me at the library.  My pile is at least ten books high.  It’s a bit overwhelming, but very fun.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately! Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 6/10/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting at my local coffee shop once again.  Because summer is finally here, I’d be sipping an iced vanilla latte on the back deck, basking in the morning sun.  What would you be having?

It is so good to be back with you all again!  I just returned from a vacation out west and, while hiking in the mountains was a great adventure, I missed these weekly chats.  What have you all been up to?

It’s crazy that summer is finally here!  Spring is slow to come here in Minnesota, but summer appears in the blink of an eye.  One day, you’re wearing light sweaters complaining about too much rain and, the next, it’s eighty degrees.

With the sunny weather and kids being out of school, the library is busy this time of year.  Our annual Summer Reading Program is up and running.  We had a kids musician come for our opening program this week, which was really fun.  Next week, I’m launching Lego Club, summer preschool story time, and having the local princess candidates in to read to the kids.  I’ve been in post-vacation catch-up mode all week, running around like a crazy person, but it’s good to be back. Continue reading

Inbox // Outbox 5/15/17

It’s time for another glimpse into my reading life.  I’m going to be going on vacation in a couple of weeks, so it might be a while until my next one of these.


Currently Reading:

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

When I was a kid, Gail Carson Levine’s stories were some of my absolute favorites.  I still read Ella Enchanted almost every year and it gets better each time.  When I heard that she was coming out with another book set in the world of The Two Princesses of Bamarre, I knew I had to read it.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Currently, I’m halfway through this brick of a novel.  Yes, over two weeks of listening only to this audiobook in the car has me only halfway.  The pacing is pretty slow, but I know that Sanderson likes to take his time.  The world building is incredible (no surprise there) and I am growing to love the interesting and complex characters.  It’ll probably be a few more weeks until I read the end, but I think spending so much time in this world will only make the conclusion more satisfying.

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Inbox // Outbox 5/1/17

Inbox:

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

THIS BOOK COMES OUT ON TUESDAY AND THIS IS ME RIGHT NOW:

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I feel like I don’t even need to say anything else.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I keep seeing this book everywhere and am deciding to give it a go.  While it looks pretty trippy and weird, it has a high Goodreads rating.  And the main character is a librarian… which, of course, is awesome.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

This has been on my TBR list for ages… in a moment of weakness, I ordered the audiobook from the library.  I love Sanderson’s fantasy books, but I honestly don’t know if I can handle listening to this one.  It is 45 hours long–which is even longer than the Geroge R.R. Martin books I listened to earlier this year.  So, while I still really want to read this book and am including it in my list this week… might not actually get to it for a while.

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Weekend Coffee Share 4/23/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be sitting at a table by the window at my local coffee shop overlooking the lake.  The sun is shining, but do not be deceived!  It is colder outside than it looks.  As I write to you today, I actually AM at my local coffee shop.  Much to the chagrin of my family, our internet is down for the weekend.

Today is super exciting because it’s Shakespeare’s 453rd birthday!!  Someday, when I’m on my own with a circle of friends who live near me, I want to host annual birthday parties for the Bard.  I think it would be so much fun to have themed snacks, games, trivia, and readings.  For now, though, I’ll just reminisce about the time I toured his house in Stratford-Upon-Avon and watch the adaptation of Twelfth Night I rented from the library.  Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play or poem?

At my library this week, we had a MASSIVE donation!  A man brought in ten large boxes of books!  My Friday had been shaping up to be pretty boring, so I was thankful for something concrete to do.  I spent most of my afternoon sorting books by size, genre, and author.  Our sale area has been pretty pathetic lately, so it was really nice to fill it up with good books.

I took Saturday off work so I could get out and enjoy Earth Day!  It was a beautiful day–so sunny and warm that I got to wear shorts.  I planned attending my local March for Science, but arrangements fell through at the last minute.  So I instead went for a long hike at a local state park and thoroughly enjoyed being out in this beautiful world we live in.

Today, I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  I don’t know if it was all the exercise I had yesterday (I spent an hour helping my mom in her garden in addition to the hike) or the cooking at the fundraiser breakfast we went to after church, but my stomach isn’t feeling too great.  Around noon, I did something uncharacteristic and took a nap.  I normally don’t attempt sleep in the day, but today I definitely needed it.

How was your week?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up, now hosted by Nerd in the Brain.

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I found these tiny lovelies on my Earth Day hike!

Inbox // Outbox 4/17/17

Time for another reading list… I’ve decided to alter my format a little bit.  We now have:

  • Currently Reading: self-explanatory
  • Inbox: Books I’m going to read next
  • Outbox: Books I’ve recently finished

Enjoy!


Currently Reading:


To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

I haven’t touched this book since my freshman year of high school.  I’m about halfway through the audiobook and it’s just as enjoyable as I remembered.  Plus, Atticus Finch is the one of the best dads in literature.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Yes, I’m reading this for the third time this year.  I just keep being drawn back to it.  I spent a great deal of time reading reviews and analysis on various book blogs the other day and my appreciation for the story has only been growing.  Is it perfect?  Definitely not.  But Maas impressively weaves heady subjects like mental illness and abusive relationships with the story–something that isn’t common in the fantasy genre.  Plus, book three comes out in LESS THAN A MONTH and I can’t wait.

Over the past year, Rachel Held Evans has become one of my favorite Christian writers.  In this memoir, she takes us through her journey as she goes from fundamentalist certainty to doubt to faith.  I’m about halfway through and am loving every moment.
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