Ten Resolutions for 2013

I’ve been making New Year’s Resolutions for the last three years. And after last year’s didn’t go so well, I’ve decided I need to make this year’s public. And I need to put them where I’ll see them often. So I’m sharing them with you and posting them on the fridge.

Without further ado, here are my goals and resolutions for 2013:

1.That’s only two books a month—what a sad number. With working full time, freelance editing jobs, blogging, and having a life, it’s tough to fit reading in, but I still want to make sure I’m doing it. Two books I want to get to this year are Don Quixote and Les Miserables. And maybe Mere Christianity, since that was on my list of resolutions last year and I bought it but never read it. Oops. But right now, I’m going back to an old favorite: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

2.With all the dental work I’ve had in the last two months to make up for a childhood of poor dental hygiene, this is a big one for me.

3.Ideally, this will be running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday or Sunday, and two days of yoga.

4.Not gonna lie—this one scares me. But I really want to get there just because I think I can’t.

5.Jonathan and I read together most nights, but I want to make more of a concentrated effort to spend time in the Word on my own. I haven’t really gotten started yet, but I’m planning to use a reading plan from Canvas Church’s website. If you’re interested in joining me, you can find the reading plan here.

6.Last year, I wanted to journal every day. It didn’t happen. Not even close. So this year, I’m shooting a little lower and broadening the possibilities—it can be journaling, a blog post, or something else. And unless I’m having a bad week, stuff I write for work won’t count.

7.We eat out way too much. Especially when we don’t have leftovers for lunches and we eat out then, too.

8.I made this a goal for myself two years ago, and it was a great challenge. I love finding and trying new recipes. Especially when they turn out great. I think I’ll start with one (or both!) of these . . .
Sun-dried Tomato Spread
Man-Pleasing Chicken

9.I’ve written about this before, but I fell out of the habit. It made life much easier when I didn’t procrastinate in the small things.

10.Earlier would be even better, but as it’s been, I’ve been getting up at 7:45ish, only about 20 minutes before I have to leave for work. No bueno. Things have got to change. And if they do, I might even have time to get my run in or do my quiet time before I go to work. That sounds like a recipe for a much better day.

What are you goals/resolutions for 2013?

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

When Lydia Pallas, a translator for the US Navy, meets Alexander Banebridge, her neat, orderly life gets disrupted in ways she never expected. Before meeting “Bane,” Lydia is wrapped up in making money so she can purchase and stay in her home. After meeting him, she gets caught up in fighting for a cause and consequently, for her life.

When I started Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but before I knew it, I got sucked into the story. The characters are realistic, full of the little quirks that make you love them. Camden does a great job of revealing their personalities and helping you understand the whys behind their words and actions.

The plot of Against the Tide was surprisingly similar to Unending Devotion, the Jody Hedlund book I reviewed last week. Though I enjoyed them both, I felt this one had a more satisfying ending, perhaps because there was more at stake for Lydia and Bane. That said, I’d recommend either book if you’re looking for a page-turner.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

https://i2.wp.com/assets.bakerpublishinggroup.com/processed/books/covers/listing/9780764208348.jpgLily Young arrives in Harrison, Michigan, in 1883, determined to find her sister no matter the cost. But on her first night in town, she bumps into Connell McCormick, the son of a local lumber baron, and her life takes a turn she never expected.

Unending Devotion was my second Jody Hedlund book, and it was even better than the first. (You can read my review of The Doctor’s Lady here.) Now that I’ve read two of her books, I can easily say that the greatest part of her stories are the characters. They’re so complex. So relatable. So human. So often, Christian fiction is full of characters that don’t seem quite right. They’re not realistic and you can’t quite figure out what makes them tick. But Hedlund creates believable characters. She’s honest about their flaws. And they become better versions of themselves by the end of her stories.

That said, you’ll fall in love with Lily, Connell, and the other characters in Unending Devotion. As a Michigander (at heart, if not by location), it made me sad to read about the history of my state as it relates to the lumber industry, but it made a great backdrop for Lily’s story and stubborn perseverance and passion to do what’s right.

I highly recommend this book. It’s one of the best historical Christian novels I’ve read this year. Hedlund is now right up there next to Julie Klassen on my list of must-read authors. (It doesn’t hurt her case that she’s a fellow Michigander who graduated from my alma mater . . . kinda.)

If you’re into writing fiction, she has a great blog full of tips and ideas.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

So Many Books, So Little Time

Do you ever feel like there are too many books and not enough time? I think about it on a regular basis. Sometimes I think reading 40 hours a week for the rest of my life wouldn’t be enough to read everything I want to read. In July, I realized I read about one book a month—if I’m lucky. That’s only twelve books a year! So I resolved to read more.

And I have (eight books in ten weeks!). They were all great reads, so I thought I’d share the book love—here are mini-reviews of the books I read for fun (if you want to read full reviews of the other two I read, click here and here) . . .

Letters from Yellowstone by Diane Smith
What made this book most enjoyable was reading about all the things I was seeing at the park while we were there, but it’s also a great story. Alex Bertram, a young woman with a passion for botany travels to Yellowstone in 1898 to classify plants found in the park. The only woman in an all-male party, she faces the disapproval and scrutiny of the men in her party and her own family and friends.

Journey to Riverbend by Henry McLaughlin
Written by a man, this historical western romance was a nice break from the endless supply of historical Christian romance written by women. The male perspective gave the story an interesting twist and brought in details a female author may not include. Though it was a little more gruesome than I’m used to, I enjoyed the change.

Wrecked by Jeff Goins
After following Goins’ blog for several months, I knew I would enjoy this book. (Confession: I have over 300 books on my Kindle and this is the only one I’ve ever paid for. It was worth every penny.) After all God had been teaching me, I knew I needed to read it. Wrecked challenged me to see beyond comfort and challenge myself to live a life that matters—one that pulls me out of my own little world, stretches me, and demands sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Saving Sailor by Renee Riva
This was a fun story told from the perspective of a pet-loving little girl growing up in the sixties. Though there are lessons to be learned from her story about fidelity and faith, the plot was secondary to the enjoyment I got from rediscovering what it’s like to be a little kid again.

Heiress by Susan May Warren
Oh my word did I enjoy this book! I finished it over the weekend and the story has stuck with me. I loved that this book had Christian values, but the characters were far from perfect. I feel in love with the flawed characters and several heart-wrenching plot twists kept my eyes glued to the page. It follows two sisters who grew up in New York City as they come of age and wrestle with following their heart and doing what’s expected.

You are a Writer by Jeff Goins
This was a quick read full of helpful advice and encouragement for writers. Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as Wrecked, it reminded me why I love Goins’ writing. He’s one of those authors who writes because he loves it, not just because he has something to say, meaning the quality of the writing is fantastic.

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

When Meredith Hayes overhears her suitor’s plot to burn down the Archer ranch, she knows she has to warn them. But when her attempt to help gets injured and ruins her reputation, Travis Archer accepts responsibility and makes her his bride. Will they ever have more than a marriage of convenience?

I really enjoyed Short-Straw Bride. Karen Witemeyer creates realistic, likable main characters and despicable villains. And the relational tension she creates is what kept me turning the page. It’s a sweet romance with a somewhat deeper plot that fills out the story and makes the characters even more endearing (or awful, depending on which character you’re referring to). It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys historical romances.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Lately I’m . . .

. . . Loving the Kindle Jonathan got me for my birthday, which was about a month ago. Right now I’m swamped with review books, so I haven’t gotten to use it much, but I can’t wait to take advantage of the more than 200 free books I’ve collected on it over the past year and a half.

. . . Excited to start reading Wrecked by Jeff Goins. I’ve been following Jeff’s blog for several months now and he’s done a great job hyping up this book. For awhile, he was offering a bunch of free stuff if you bought a copy of the book, so I did. Luckily, one of the free gifts was the Kindle edition of the book—the hardcopy is in high demand and will take a little while to get here. If you’re interested, I think it’s on sale for $0.99!

. . . Attending the Global Leadership Summit. Our church is a host site and I get to attend as part of the staff. Jonathan took the two days off work so he could come too. Today’s sessions were great, and I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’ll post highlights next week.

. . . Watching the Olympics. I think we’ve watched every night. Gymnastics is always my favorite, but I’ve enjoyed the other events too. Except maybe volleyball. I just can’t get excited about it. I’d rather watch cycling.

. . . Packing to go up north for the weekend. Right after the Summit ends tomorrow, we’re heading up to Jonathan’s grandparents’ lake home. We’ll get to relax, ride the skidoo, and eat way too much food. Sounds perfect, especially if I can get some reading in.