Reading and writing recap: 2017 thus far

We're just over halfway through with the year so I thought I'd do a little recap of how my reading and writing has been going this year. 

Reading

So far, I've read 41 books (or 43 according to GoodReads, not sure what my paper list is missing). I started to keep track of some with the hashtag #nicolelovesbooks on Instagram but since I read so many on Kindle (thru Overdrive/the library), I don't end up getting pics of many of the books I read. But I have done better at recording my books read on paper as well as on GoodReads, and I love having a pretty list to look at and reminisce about all the lovely books I've read. It's been a good reading year so far, with lots more to go. 

My currently reading/TBR includes: Present Over Perfect, Big Magic, The Girl from Everywhere (about a time traveling YA pirate girl), A Snicker of Magic, For Darkness Shows the Stars (a YA dystopian Persuasion re-dux), Ginny Moon, Echo, Some Kind of Happiness, At Home in the World, Much Ado About Anne, Chasing Slow, and Border Odyssey (stories from the US/Mexico border). My upcoming book club selection is an Agatha Christie, which will be my first of hers. And of course, the TBR list grows daily it seems. (So many books, so little time!)

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Around the fam-- David read and enjoyed Ready Player One (he liked it more than me but I am looking forward to the movie) and just started The Hunger Games (!!). The fact that he's reading more has me all swoony. ;) Gigi is reading lots (recently The Babysitters Club (originals and new graphic versions), The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Little Women (my childhood abridged copy) and lots more, and Brody has been devouring Magic Tree House books in order, along with lots of graphic novels, and most recently some of the easier Matt Christopher (who's actually a lady!) baseball books, like this one

Writing

In addition to my quarterly posts at The Art of Simple and what's become almost that infrequent here on my blog, I've been writing a lot (well, a lot for me). I finished my middle grade novel manuscript and have been editing and revising that and now I'm ready to submit it to Pitch Wars, a really cool contest and community. I've written a query letter and a synopsis and I have a couple more weeks to polish those up before entering in early August. 

My next project is flourishing in my mind but I haven't quite found/made the time to do much in the way of concrete outlining/plotting yet. It's a YA and I am really excited about bringing these characters' stories to life. 

{sometimes when you have a creepy dream and wake up early, you have to redeem the time and get to work!}

{sometimes when you have a creepy dream and wake up early, you have to redeem the time and get to work!}

Podcasts

If you're a reader, I'm sure you already know and love the What Should I Read Next? podcast, but another fun one I found recently is Overdue. Each episode the two hosts discuss one book, so I've downloaded a bunch about books I've read and they're quite entertaining. As for writing, I have been really loving the diyMFA podcast. Although, now that it's summer I'm pretty behind on my podcast listening-- something to look forward to when I'm driving to school and practices more in the fall. 

One last note...

I think I'll try to send a newsletter in the early fall with more thoughts on this, but after much prayer and consideration we decided to send Gigi to public school for 5th grade. She is thrilled. I'll still be homeschooling (part-time) Brody and Hallee for 1st and 2nd grade, which should be fun.

Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Disclosure: this post has affiliate links in it. Thanks for your support!

YA, KidLit, cyborgs, & more {reading update!}

what i'm reading 2016 It was a good summer of reading! Now that we've entered fall, I thought it was time to update the ol' reading list here on the blog. I had a lot of fun with the audioblog in my last book update and after so good feedback, I decided to do another one. This audioblog will be available in my free newsletter, which will hit inboxes on Saturday, October 29th. (The newsletter is meant to be seasonal, but as it turns out this will be my first one of 2016-- oops!).

Read More Coverget the scoop

If you haven't already signed up, you can do so here. When you sign up, you will receive a free copy of my eBook, Read More, and you will also have access to my second audioblog... where I discuss all these books including which series has surprised me most (which will hit inboxes soon)!

So without further adieu, here is what I've been reading lately:

2016-vol-3-books-read

I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've read any of these books! And don't forget you can listen to all my thoughts on these in my audioblog which will arrive via email on Saturday morning, Oct. 29, 2016. If you're reading this post after the newsletter goes out, just send me a quick email (hello @ nicolevbennett . com) and I'll forward it to you! :)

This post includes affiliate links; thank you for reading and for your support.

Fallish Quick Lit + my last books of 2015

too busy to read Life has been busy, but not too busy to read. ;) Even if it's only for a minute or two, I just don't feel right turning off my light without my eyes resting on the pages of a book (or ebook, as it were) before I fall asleep.

And in the moments when I had time to take a breath and chill for a minute amidst the craziness of life, it was usually to pick up either Instagram or a book.

So here's what I spent my reading time indulging in during the autumn of 2015.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

(So good and, whoa, that twist at the end! Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.)

The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe

sarah addison allen covers

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

(I fell in love with SAE's books-- can you tell?? They are delightful stories with just the right amount of magic. The Girl Who Chased the Moon is my fave so far.)

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (yep, again. I just love it so much.)

After You by Jojo Moyes

(I just loved After You. It completely redeemed Me Before You for me, which had an ending I did not love. After You had a wonderfully satisfying ending, if not perfectly "happily ever after.")

Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery by Rob Thomas: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

(I listened to this (read by Kristen Bell, which was perfect), and I can't imagine reading it any other way. If only every beloved canceled series could be followed up by a movie and 2 novels. I loved getting more of a Veronica fix, and can't wait to read/listen to the second one.)

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume was our fall book club pick. Reading Judy Blume again reminded me how wonderful a storyteller she is, but it also reminded me what I discovered when I read Summer Sisters years ago-- she can actually be a bit, well, almost graphic in her non-children's novels, especially when writing from a guy's perspective. I was unsure if the plane crashes would be too much for me to read but they weren't too traumatic for me-- the story captivated me enough to make up for them. Overall a good book, which gave us a fun discussion, and a great 5os-themed meal to enjoy.

With the kiddos

The Year of Bill Miller by Kevin Henkes

Oh how we love Mr. Henkes' writing and illustrations. This was a delightful book-- the first chapter book of his that we've read and recently Hallee asked me, "When can we read more stories about Billy Miller?" Maybe there'll be a sequel??

The Bad Beginning,The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

David read the first book from the Series of Misfortunate Events (which he and I had both read years ago) to the kids, and then we checked out the audiobooks of the next two for some very fun entertainment on a road trip-- especially the one read by Tim Curry.

stuart little

Stuart Little by E.B. White (currently)

I started reading this to Hallee (mostly when the big kids are at school) but Brody has wanted to get in on it too (he was a baby when I read it previously to him and Gigi). The vocabulary in this little book astounds me! And it's just so cute.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (love this beautiful advent storybook!)

Currently reading

Honorable mention (books that I've been "reading" for way too long):

  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Read-aloud time got pushed to the back burner a lot late fall. Hoping to ramp it up as we start the new year after Advent kick-starting us into a good evening routine and finally have more down time with the kids during the day.)
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (Writing has really been on the back burner but I'm looking forward to getting back into this with its short chapters, writing prompts and general bits of encouragement and butt-kicking.)
  • Encore Provence by Peter Mayle (I may wait till spring to pick this one back up. I tend to feel like reading travel lit in spring/summer.)
  • Follow Me by David Platt (This is a super solid book; I just need to get back in a rhythm of reading it-- probably a bit in the mornings after I finish Side by Side.)
  • Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (I bought this for David for Father's Day in '13 and we started out having him read it to me in bed out loud (he does a good Jim impression), but considering it's been on my Goodreads shelf for 2.5 years, we apparently don't do this "ritual" very often. We both were loving the book but are better at watching TV late at night. Must finish in 2016!)

Up Next

My little book club is reading The Lake House (Kate Morton's latest) next for our winter pick and we are all super excited for our library hold numbers to come up; and I also plan to grab First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen from the library on Kindle as soon as I have a moment. Stay tuned!

what i'm reading in 2015  nicolevbennett.com

Hopefully next year I will do more frequent (and less gigantic) reading updates! ;) Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought. 

Quick Lit~ late spring edition

what i'm reading in 2015  nicolevbennett.com During my little absence from my blog, you can bet I've been doing quite a bit of reading.

It's been a particularly good couple of months of reading in fact, and it seemed like it was about time to share all the good things I've read since my last Quick Lit post.

I do have to confess that I have all but given up on Les Miserables, which was the book choice for the book club. I still want to read it, but there's no way I'm going to finish by June which was the original goal. I don't know what it is exactly, but the easy answer is that I just keep getting distracted by easier books.

the Rosie Effect

 The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

This is the fun sequel to The Rosie Project, which I read last year and loved. While I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as the first, it was still quite entertaining and captivating.

There's just something about Don Tillman's narration that makes for easy and smooth reading, despite him being quite a technical and logical character. I'm still excited to see Don and Rosie in film format someday, since I know Simsion has worked on a screenplay for the The Rosie Project.


A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson

I bought this book on a Kindle-deal whim. I had put it on my to-read list a while before but didn't know much about it. When I saw it on a friend's IG feed and then saw it for cheap or free (I don't remember which), I snatched it up, which turned out to be a good grab. I really enjoyed reading it, and it got me realizing that I really love reading memoir before bed, because it's the kind of thing that I can stop any time, and while thoroughly enjoyable, it doesn't tempt me to stay up till 2am to see what happens next, like a novel. This was a sweet read, and while I had never read Sophie's blog before, I enjoyed her writing style and stories immensely-- a nice blend of laugh-out-loud funny and cut-to-the-heart moments.


UnbrokenUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I've been on a bit of a WWII kick, sort of by accident. Reading this book felt really monumental. It explored a side of the war that I felt like I didn't know much about (the Pacific war), and gave me a serious dose of perspective when I considered all Louie Zamperini went through when I was having a "hard day" of parenting. The way Ms. Hillenbrand writes is downright captivating. She masterfully presents all her incredible research into what reads like a page-turning novel. I still haven't watched the movie yet because-- I'll be honest-- I'm a bit nervous to see it, knowing how intense the story is. But to say I was inspired by Zamperini's life, would be an understatement. Reading this made me wish my grandpa, who served in the Pacific during WWII, was still alive to talk to, and it also gave me a sobering education as Memorial Day approached.


What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

When I started this book, I didn't really know what it was about, which I'm kinda glad about. As the story developed, and I figured out what was going on, I fell in love with both the whole idea and the characters, and basically couldn't put it down until I finished. I conveniently read it over Mother's Day weekend which meant I didn't feel bad reading it all day long essentially. ;) Not only did this novel captivate me, but it got me thinking about my own life, which I think is a good sign of great writing. I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. Moriarty books now, and recommending this one left and right. Last weekend I picked up a copy as a garage sale for $1 (score!) because I knew it was one I would want to re-read and loan out to friends.


Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp

David and I have been leading a community group for about six years, and this is a book that I wish I'd read oh, about six years ago. In my opinion, it's a must read for anyone in ministry or leading any kind of small group or really just living in Christian community with other believers. It's a wonderful resource for iron-sharpening-iron kind of living, and for believers who want to share wise Biblical counsel with one another and be living out the gospel. I'm so glad our church leadership handed this one out to community group leaders and I'm sure I'll be referencing it for years to come. Tripp uses lots of stories and hypothetical situations to convey his points which makes the information really come alive.


comforts from the crossComforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Elyse has become one of my favorite gospel-centered authors. This book is a simple devotional-- just 31 days' worth of reading, that points us to what Jesus did on the cross for us, and how that applies to our everyday life.

I read this one while making my coffee over the last several weeks and it was a really great way to start the day.


little hands and hearts

Never Say NoNever Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman

I've read a lot of parenting books, but I think what I like most about this book is what its tagline proclaims, it's about "raising big-picture kids." And that's exactly the kind of book it is. This isn't a nitty-gritty how-to-parent book, it's a big-picture look at parenting, and about raising children who love the Lord and who are fully living out who God created them to be.

Let me go a little fangirl on ya and say that I've loved Switchfoot since they were college kids (and I was in high school), playing on a virtually empty corner of the local street fair. I have every album and have probably seen at least a dozen of their shows. But what's always stood out to me is that the band members seem to have integrity and have, over the years, created quality work that reflected their values and beliefs but appealed to a broad audience (which just happens to be a quality I aspire to  in my writing). So to read first-hand how the brothers were raised has been a real special experience. Mark Foreman pastors a church just up the street from mine, and while he and his church might vary a bit theologically from mine, he comes across in this book as someone who genuinely loves Jesus and deeply desired to follow Him as he and Jan raised their children. Thanks to Litfuse for this review copy; I've really enjoyed this book.

Currently reading:

So that's it! I'd love to know your thoughts on any of these books or hear what you've been reading. I'm pretty sure every book on this list was one recommended by a friend-- that's why I love sharing book lists and reading others'.

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