January TBR

januarytbr

Hi friends, and welcome to my TBR list for January!  If you saw my last post , you know that my reading goal for 2018 is to read consistently, at least 10 pages every day – rather than setting myself a number of books to read in a year.  I did set myself a Goodreads challenge of 20 books, simply because I love the what Goodreads keeps track of as you read.  I hope that my consistency challenge helps me to far surpass that goal of 20 books, but currently it is just serving as an outline for me.  I’m looking at my TBR the same way – as an outline.  I am giving myself so much grace with challenges and goals this year.  If I don’t accomplish this entire list, I am not going to guilt myself – but I am so excited about every book on this list, and I’m sticking with the theme – and using this TBR as an outline for my month.  Each book is linked to Goodreads if you would like to read the description and find out more 🙂

First on the list is Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.  I feel like I’m kind of cheating with this one as I started it just before Christmas, and I’m already 200+ pages in.  But this is such a giant brick of a book (serious, I think it could do actual damage if used as a weapon) I will be lucky to get through it this month!  I am loving this duology tho, and I can’t wait to see how it comes out in the end!

Next up is Garden City by John Mark Comer.  If you are following me on *Instagram link* you may have seen this book among the lovely reads I got for Christmas.  One of my other reading goals for 2018 is to balance fiction with non-fiction.  I have so many Christian/Inspirational non-fiction books on my self that I want to read or reread, so I’m hoping to include at least one in each month’s TBR.  And I can’t wait to get into Garden City.

The third book on my list for January is The Strays by Emily Bitto.  I would be lying to you if I said that I’m not judging this book by its cover.  I mean it is just so pretty!  The outside has definitely given me some pretty high expectations about the story, but I’ve heard good things about it, so I’m sure it will not disappoint!

Last but not least is Sense and Sensibility  by Jane Austin.  I have been really wanting to read through my entire collection of Jane Austin’s seven novels for the longest time, so I’m excited to jump into classics for the first time in a while with this read.

Bonus book:  On January 1st, I started 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs.  This is a daily devotional – and since it lasts 100 days, I won’t be finishing it in January, but I do hope to incorporate it into my daily routine each day this month.  This book is so timely for me, as I read Annie’s book Let’s All Be Brave my senior year of high school.  This devotional is inspired by that book, and reading it in my final semester of college just seems right 🙂

Well, there you have it – my overly ambitions January TBR.  I have high hopes for this month reading wise, as I have some free time before the semester begins to get a head start on my books.  I can’t wait to share my thoughts on these reads with all of you!

I will see you all next Wednesday – hopefully with a review of one of these beauties.  Until then, have a lovely week!  

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A Letter to my Future Self

letter to myself

to be opened 12/31/2018

Dear Anna,

It’s easy to look back in the last year and pick out the flaws – all the time wasted, all the doubt and insecurity and fear.  But honestly, as I’m reflecting on 2017, there are a lot of positives and highlights, and those are the parts of 2017 that I want to remember.

In 2017, I invested time in The Gathering – a small group that really helped encourage and grow me the past semester (and taught me that I need fellowship to grow).  I worked so hard, and I’m really proud of my grades for end of junior year and beginning of senior year.  I know that grades are not everything – but seeing my work pay off feels nice 🙂

This year I also fell in love with my job even more – and it was this summer that something clicked and I realized I would love to work in a college library.  I feel that I have really grown and invested in friendships that are going to last after college, and I started making some solid plans for the future.

But despite the positives, despite any growth – there are ways I want to change and improve myself this year.  The purpose of this letter is to outling the top 5 things I want to work towards accomplishing in 2018.

  1. I want to become more consistent on my Little Blue Library blog.  I feel like my blog is a place where I can talk about my passion for books and also just chronicle the highlights of my year.  I think this blog could eventually turn into a platform I can put on my resume when applying for librarian jobs in the future.  Also, it is a way to encourage me to read more consistently!
  2. I want to minimize the amount of stuff I own – especially clothes.  I anticipate at least one move in 2018, and I would so much rather sort/donate/sell/etc… anything I don’t use and love than pack and drag it all with me.
  3. I want to grow in health and fitness.  I don’t want to set specific goals for myself in this category because I honestly don’t think I will meet them.  But I want to strive to drink more water, but mindful of what I am eating, and grow in my skill in yoga.
  4. I want to improve my mind and my mood by choosing podcasts or music when I’m getting ready and a book before bed, rather than YouTube or Netflix, which I tend to choose at those times.  Basically, less screen time on the eyes!
  5. I want to pursue creative hobbies.  Specifically, I want to learn one new piano piece for every month of 2018, finish a draft of a novel, and pick up something new like a new instrument or maybe hand lettering.

Some of these goals are specific, others are more vague.  2018 is going to be the biggest year for change I’ve had in a long time, as I graduate from college and transition to a new chapter of life.  I want these goals to serve as an outline for my life this coming year.  And no matter if I complete them exactly or not, I believe that these goals will guide me to become a more strong and well-rounded person.

Finally, before I close this letter, I want to ask God to enter in and fill every part of my 2018.

Dear God,

From the people I meet, to the places I go, to the decisions I make, I want Your wisdom and guidance to be on my life in 2018.  I thank You that You know the plans You have for me in the days and weeks to come.  I want to be under your will this year, God, and I want to as you to guide my steps as I go.

Amen.

Until next year,

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This post was inspired by Kalyn Nicholson’s YouTube video entitled How to Live Your Best Life in 2018.  Check out her YouTube Channel and Blog.  She is an amazing human ❤

I hope you all enjoyed this peek into my life.  Stayed tuned tomorrow for the first of my 2018 bookish posts!

Five Books to Read in an Afternoon

Have you ever had one of those lazy summer afternoons when you want nothing more than a cold lemonade and a good book?  I know – doesn’t it sound wonderful?  Today, I have decided to share with you my top picks that are good one-sitting reads for a perfect lazy day
1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  I kind of don’t want to share any details of this story with you.  When I picked up We Were Liars, I choose it based on the cover and the intriguing title alone – but the fact that I knew nothing of the story going into it made this book so much more of an enjoyable (yet heartwrenching…) experience.  At just over 200 pages, this book will fly by, leaving you to pick up the pieces of your soul before you even realize it is over.
 
2. The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis.  This is a somewhat lesser-known installment in the Chronicles of Narnia series.  The story is a rare glimpse into Narnia that takes place during the reign of the four young heroes of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  However, the magically land is given a new twist as we follow around a servant boy known as Shasta – and see his perspective on the realm of Narnia.  This novel, while it might be small, is overflowing with beautiful writing and masterful storytelling.  The Narnia sage might be considered children’s stories by some – but by choosing The Horse and His Boy, you will be responding to CS Lewis’s own observation that “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
3.  Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon.  I sped through this story in just a couple of hours.  Everything Everything combines an incredibly unique and engaging storyline with masterful illustrations.  Much of the story is told through instant message conversations between the two main characters – causing the length of the book to be a bit deceiving.  It is a very quick read, while at the same time being one of the most satisfying and moving stories I have read in a while.
4. November 9 by Colleen Hoover.  I hesitate to share this one for the reason that it is just so good.  Yes, I realize that this makes little sense – but let me explain.  I read this rather short novel in a matter of 2 hours for the simple reason that I actually did not have the ability to put it down.  It tells the story of an aspiring novelist who meets a girl that inspires the novel he was born to write.  They meet on the 9th of November – but through a series of circumstances, the two have to part ways at the end of the day.  They decide to meet up again on November 9th next year, and the story follows each November 9th for several years – revealing so many unexpected twists along the way.  It is just such a beautiful, gripping story that I had to read it all at once and find out how their story came out.  The reason I hesitate to share it is because, when it was finished, I almost wished I could pick it up and experience it all over again, or that I hadn’t rushed through it so quickly because of how completely wonderful it was.  So – you have my official warning.  Read at your own risk (I dare you to put it down once, actually.  I’ll bet you won’t be able to).
5. Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs. This book is a little different from the others on my list – in that it is an inspirational non-fiction book.  Annie F. Downs is one of my favorite authors of all time, and Let’s All Be Brave is full of personal, real stories from her life that she shares to encourage her readers to step out of their comfort zone and make the ‘brave’ decision in every situation.  Sitting down and reading this book from start to finish is basically sitting down with Annie for a few hours over coffee, and it is such an encouraging read.

November 9 Review

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November 9…. this book.  I opened November 9 expecting an intriguing storyline and maybe some good writing.  I have never read Colleen Hoover before, but I have heard enough good things that my expectations where fairly high.  Despite this, I was not prepared for the incredible story I discovered inside the pages of this book – I was gripped from the very beginning, and I could not put it down (though I will admit I was tempted to throw it out the window at a couple of different points).  November 9 is one of those books you will devour, yet when it is over you will wish you had taken the time to savor it.  And you may not be able to accept any other book for a few days afterwards because the story is just so good that nothing else can measure up.

So, now that you know my opinion about the beautifulness of this book, let me give you a quick glimpse of the story inside 🙂

The story opens on November 9th, the two-year anniversary of a fire which terribly scarred aspiring actress Fallon (last name), ending her acting career.  She meets Ben, a college student with a passion for writing.  Ben sees two things in Fallon – her deep, genuine beauty, and the insecurity she projects due to the scars that the fire left on her face.  Ben makes it his goal to help Fallon regain her confidence and see herself as beautiful again – and in the process, she becomes the inspiration he needs to write a brilliant story.

The day Fallon and Ben meet happens to be the day before Fallon moves to a new city.  Even though they are about to be separated, Ben and Fallon determine to meet up again – same place, same time – on the next November 9th.  The story follows the incredible ups and downs their lives take on over the course of several years.

There is so much beauty and creativity in this plot, and I’m pretty sure I experienced every emotion a book can possibly producing different points of the story.

If you are looking for a book that is impossible to put down, characters that refuses to leave you long after the story is finished, and a plot that grips you from the first page – November 9 should find a spot at the top of your TBR for sure.

 

 

 

 

INCONCEIVABLE! by Tegan Wren

Hi everyone,

Today I am very excited to introduce to you one of my favorite books so far in 2016: Inconceivable by Tegan Wren.

I can honestly say that it is a rare thing for me to encounter a book that I am as completely satisfied with as I was with this lovely read.  (plus, this cover wins over just about every single book on my shelf right now, don’t you agree?)

So, to start out, here’s a quick In-Anna’s-Words rundown of the story:  Hatty, native of Missouri but currently living as a successful journalist in Europe, encounters and wins the heart of a certain Prince John.  Their relationship begins under the guise of an interview – but quickly blossoms into something more, eventually moving to marriage.  There is a certain element of irony that comes along with an American journalist marrying into a royal European family – and it brings just the right mix of conflict and humor into this romantic tale.  But soon, being in uncomfortable territory for a journalist is the least of Hatty’s concerns as she discovers that she is struggling to bear children.  Beyond the desire to be a mother, there is the added pressure of the fact that Prince John must produce an heir.  This story weaves together a beautiful romance with a very real struggle, painting what would seem like an unbelievable life of an instant-royal into a surprisingly relatable journey.  I won’t give away the ending of this beautiful story, as it is something that must be experienced for itself.  However, I will close my little description with the words that Tegan inscribed in the front of my copy of Inconceivable: “The best happy endings are the unexpected ones!”

There was so much to love in this brilliant story.  Maybe it was the fact that both Hatty and myself are natives of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, or it could have been our shared journalism roots.  But I experienced a connection with this character that I haven’t encountered in a very long time.  It was something that went beyond just our shared circumstances.  Tegan brought this character to life in a very real, down to earth way – a way that would allow anyone who picks up this story to connect in the same way that I did.

The same clear, relatable style of writing that brought Hatty to life brings to life every element of this story, from the landscape, to the gorgeous palace, to each character you meet along the way.  As I read, I found myself questioning… how is it that this story seems so real to me, even though I have never experienced marriage, or meeting a prince, or the struggle with infertility?  The answer, I discovered, is a simple one.  This story is so real to me because it is real to the author.  Tegan really experienced living in the Ozarks, she really worked as a journalist, and she has really felt the hardship of infertility.  However, rather than dwelling in bitterness  – Tegan has chosen to move on in many ways; through becoming an adoptive parent, and through taking her story and sharing it through this incredible book.  Inconceivable touched me deeply.  It is incredibly rare to find an author who will pour their personal story into a book like Tegan has done, and I am so thankful to have discovered her writing through Inconceivable!

To find out more about Tegan and her story, check out her website: a great resource for book info as well as more of her infertility journey. teganwren.com

And, of course, here is the link to find her book for yourself.  I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.  And, just remember, “The best happy endings are the most unexpected ones!”  INCONCEIVABLE! on Amazon

Remember Me?

Hello all 🙂  Yes, it’s me… the girl that laid out a ton of ambitious goals and then took a slightly extended hiatus due midterms and a week of sickness and an unhealthy obsession with Gilmore Girls, among other things.

But, here I am again, excited to jump back into this whole blogging craziness with both feet.  In the past couple weeks, I have been busy planning upcoming content to share with all of you, and I thought I would give you a little peek at what is to come.

First off, I will be catching up on my book reviews, featuring some of my favorites so far this year – including authors like Gayle Foreman and Sarah J. Maas.  I will also be revealing one of my newest favorite genres, and putting together a list of recommended titles.

I am also very excited to introduce to you some of the indie authors I have had the privilege of working with in the past couple of months.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to stay faithful to this little blog throughout my absence.  I am so excited about all of the new content I have to share with you very soon! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Instareads: App Review

So, I have come across this interesting new resource for readers and bloggers, so I thought I would take a moment to share it with you!

It is an app called Instareads.  The Instareads app takes book summarys (previously available on Amazon for around $2.50 each) and provides their unlimited library to you for $2.99 per month.

Instareads is such a great concept!  Basically, each book is summed up in a few pages, and then each chapter has its own summary.  The instareads library has a huge selection of fiction, non-fiction, self-help books, science-related books, biographies and more.  The summaries in each of these genres provide a different resource for a different audience.

If you are a book blogger, you can use the fiction section (or virtually any section, for that matter) to refresh your mind about a specific book before you review it.

If you are looking for a book on a particular subject – from science to business to history – these summaries are more in depth than Amazon blurbs, but you don’t have to take the time to seek out and flip through the book to find out if it is what you are looking for.

For the biographies and autobiographies, these summaries provide a fantastic overview of someone’s life, choosing to highlight the most important details from the book – saving you the trouble of reading through yourself.

With that said, I would like to break this app down into its pros and cons for your consideration:  (:

Pros:

  • Fantastic resource for bloggers, or anyone doing general research
  • Clear, concise summaries
  • Large selection of popular, new releases
  • User friendly
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Limited selection of older, classic books.  (I realize that the purpose of this app is to provide summaries of current releases, but I think it would be a great platform for the classics as well)
  • This app might be confused with an avenue through which you can read fiction books.  It is not.  Reading the summary of non-fiction, scientific books before you have read the original?  That is fine.  But DO NOT read the summary of The Fault in Our Stars (as an example) unless you have read the book, and are using the summary strictly as a refresher.
  • Room for improvement.  This is true with all new apps – but little things, like a flaw in the menu option, and the voice over not working on iPad are little areas that could be improved to make this app more effective.

 

So…. is it worth $2.99 per month, you ask?  That is a question that you will have to answer yourself.  They do provide a month long trial, if you would like to give it a try before purchasing a subscription.  However, this would be my advice.  If you are strictly a fiction reader – I would skip this app.  As I mentioned, it is not to be used as a fiction reading replacement.  But if you are a blogger or you are looking for a research resource – or even if you are trying to choose books to purchase for a library, this app would be an excellent investment.

Thank you for taking the time to read this little review.  As I hope you all know – I do not choose to review a book or service that I don’t find interesting, and I try to make my reviews relevant to my readers as well.  If there is something out there – an app, or any kind of product – that you would like to see my opinion, please let me know and I will gladly consider it!