Summer Books So Far

Summer’s not over yet and there’s still plenty of time to pack in those reads! Today I’m sharing what I’ve read so far and what’s on my next list of good reads!

  1. The Alice Network - A story that flashes between two different times, two women who are relatively different and yet the same. A story with suspense, drama, heart warming moments and history all mixed. The plot is based on real life spy network during WWI which makes it all the more interesting to me.

  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Oh my word. I had this book on hold and waited 6 weeks for my turn…only to realize I had 2 days left to read it. My time ran out just a mere 75 pages shy of completing the book so I did what any normal person would do, bought a second hand copy at Half Price and promptly finished it an hour later. I was shocked to learn this was based on a real love story, real people and their incredibly real story. Must read, must read, must read!

  3. What Is Left the Daughter - Not a favorite. Another WWII novel but it takes place in Canada and has a unique perspective of a father writing to his daughter, explaining his history and life to her though they haven’t seen each other in literally years. Heartbreaking but an intriguing story.

  4. Bonfire - Krysten Ritter’s first novel and truly, it was a fun quick mystery read. Some loose ends here and there, a few questionable plot points and maybe a tad bit predictable but I still enjoyed it as a fun light summer read.

Next on my list, I’m aiming for more mystery and some lightheartedness.

  1. The Last Time I Saw You

  2. The Last Mrs. Parrish

  3. The River at Night

  4. Unhoneymooners

I tend to use my library app pretty regularly so we’ll see what actually comes available and what other reads I might find!

Got a favorite book or read something really great? Drop your suggestion in the comments!

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Brave, Not Perfect

Recently I heard a Rise podcast episode with Reshema Sujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code and author of Brave, Not Perfect.

Listening to the interview, I got curious about her book. In a lot of ways, there are many times in the last decade that I haven’t felt very brave. If anything, I’ve thought I’ve made very careful steps, opting for safety rather than taking risks whether that was in my career or personal life. It ranges from small things to big decisions. I think we all have moments we weigh out the consequences to see if the choice is right for us and sometimes safe is best and sometimes, we should just go for it.

I love wearing this shirt when I feel like I need to ward off any bad juju, be a little braver. No negativity here, folks! Only positive vibes for positive lives!

I love wearing this shirt when I feel like I need to ward off any bad juju, be a little braver. No negativity here, folks! Only positive vibes for positive lives!

I checked out the audio book and listened to it every chance I got hoping I would hear the right things to maybe help me work through moments of self-doubt. While I immediately resonated with the things she said in the opening, I realized that perhaps my bravery has been there all along, just clouded with adult responsibility. For example, I loved dancing as a kid. I mean loved it. Growing up my mother helped with costumes at the local theater productions in the summer and I would go up there with her. I’d study the shows, learn the dances, talk to all the performers, put on shows for my family. To me, it was a whole exciting world I wanted to be a part of any chance I got. When it came my time to try my hand at theater, I wasn’t afraid to go to auditions as a kid. Nervous, sure, but my parents were so encouraging to go and have fun, I didn’t get panicked. I won scholarships at dance conventions for just being that happy kid, full out, no holds barred. There’s a story about leading the waitresses through the Macarena at Babes Chicken House when I was 10 because they didn’t know it and I had that dance down pat. Why wouldn’t I teach these ladies how it’s done?

There are many times I’ve embraced bravery without thinking about it: taking myself to my senior homecoming sans a date, asking that cute guy out for coffee only to be shot down, emailing a stranger for job opportunities that actually pan out, and traveling for auditions and navigating new cities all by myself. I’m not a total and complete scaredy-cat but I realized in listening to Reshema’s book, I’m actually plenty brave enough. The problem is when I let self-doubt and fear of disappointment rule out.

Now, neither of those two things are new to me—I’m well aware of these traits and have been trying to work on those for the last couple years. Heck, we all have self-doubt now and again!

“Should I go for this job” or

“Is this outfit too bold?” or

“What happens if I follow this dream?”

Questions like that are usually followed by answer such as:

“You’re not fully qualified for the gig,” or

“That’s not your style so it’s totally out of character” or

“You could fail, lose everything and people will judge you for it.”

What really makes people brave, I think, is when we work through the answers. Saying, “stuff it all! I’m doing it anyway,” doesn’t always jive for the careful thinker, especially if they have that giant pull to please others, not disappoint or care about another’s opinion. Yeah, try as you might, Fearless Ones, there are folks (like me!) who just can’t tear that part of themselves away. Instead we work have to work through it constantly.

Playing the “What If” game, working through each scenario, understanding why you feel the way you do and rationally working through each step can help ease that anxious feeling that a decision could prove to be wrong. And if it is, at the end of the day, you know you’ll be okay because nine times out of ten, that’s usually what happens when you work through it all. You end up realizing you’ll be okay, that you can pivot after trying, and that other options will present themselves when you relax and open your mind.

So, what exactly did I get from Brave, Not Perfect? Well, a lot actually! These key points were my favorites and I think good reminders for anyone to hang on to:

  1. You can’t be brave if you’re tired. Take care of yourself, eat well, move your body, and get good sleep! Make your health a priority or else you won’t have the strength and stamina to get through the unknown challenges and sometimes scary opportunities.

  2. Ask if it’s your drama talking or wisdom? Are you letting fear and dramatics lead you to an answer or are you rationally working through the problem, really seeing all possibilities? Is the experience of failure leading the conversation or actual know-how?

    *I love this one! No drama-llama, please!

  3. Hone the power of “yet”! I’m not _____ yet. I haven’t reached this goal yet. It turns everything from “not possible” to “possible” with time and effort.

  4.  What advice would you give someone else if faced with a hard choice? I can pump up anyone, my husband, students, friends, family—I believe in them so, so much! Myself? I can have one or two reasons and give up, but if I were talking to someone else, no way would I let them thrown in the towel. So why would not give myself the same sage advice to keep trying or go

  5.  “Change what we think and believe by changing what we do.” (Dr. Meredith Grossman)

    Turning the script around is hard, but following up the change with action helps make us believe in the change more. So simple and so effective but we have to make a conscious decision each time we adjust.

  6.  Ask yourself what matters more to you in life. Decide what your priorities are and make your decisions based on what brings you closer to those things.

  7.  Just ask and then stop talking. This is a good reminder to put the question out there to someone and wait for their response. Don’t fill with fall back (“If you can’t meet,” “if you need more time, “I might not be fully qualified”). Just ask and wait.

  8. Speak up when you know you should. If that voice tells you to, but the fear gets in the way, just speak up. Do it for the things you believe in, what you think needs to be addressed, the introduction that you know might make a difference. Just say something. And by the way, you can be confident and firm without being rude. There actually is a difference.

  9.  “I’d rather be caught trying than not at all.” (Hillary Clinton)

    No matter where you stand on the person quoted, the sentiment is what I think is most important. No one will fault someone who tried because, hey! At least they tried! They gave an effort! What did you do? Even if it doesn’t pan out, you tried and at the end of the day, or at your 80th birthday, wouldn’t you have liked to say that you tried, made an effort, lived fully without ever wishing to have missed an opportunity to try.

Maybe you’re not a perfectionist either, maybe you’re not in need of upping your bravery game, but if you’re just needing to work through moments of self-doubt, hopefully these points help you out. Of course, the book Brave, Not Perfect is always there to elaborate even more on the topic!

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Just a Little Sunday Hello!

Hello!

Good morning! Or afternoon or evening, whenever you’re reading this!

Just a quick little post to say hi y’all! I’ve been eyeball deep in work, no surprise, but I’ve also been actively trying to enjoy the downtime I have in the evenings and weekends. Somehow taking a little less pressure off myself to accomplish and do all the things seemed like a bright idea to reduce stress. Who’da thunk?

In that down time I’ve gotten to enjoy finally seeing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I love it! I think Amy Sherman-Palladino is brilliant and I love her quirky style, fast dialogue, and the characters she creates (read: original Gilmore Girls fan). In any case, yes, I know I’m late to the game but I really wanted to like it and surprise, I actually loved it! On to season two!

I wrapped up The Bear & The Nightingale trilogy. If you are someone that enjoys fantasy books, this one is really lovely. Katherine Arden blends Russian folklore together with some historical references, it’s very light and she’s well aware she’s mixing things together for this beautiful story. Essentially you follow the story of a young woman on her journey to fully embracing herself as a witch by watching her grow up, mess up and rise above all the struggles, and she she has a lot. In a lot of ways, if you strip away all the folklore, you read about woman growing up, discovering who she is, learning to embrace that even if it costs her the security of familiarity by walking down the traditional path. I know I’m summarizing three books very, very broadly.

There are tons of books that take on that subject, most likely set in current day, but what I really liked about this character is that she never shied away from what she knew she needed to do or wanted to do. Even if her family told her, “this is a terrible idea,” she went through with it because she knew it was what was best for her. I get very tired reading about the same character that has a responsibility and doesn’t want to step up to the plate. For Vasilisa, our heroine, she just continues to plow ahead without really sitting down to feel sorry for herself (Thank you!).

Here are all three books with the most gorgeous covers! Yes, marketing teams are totally selling to people like me.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the fun read and it was something different to dive into. Plus, any time I can find a series I’m usually sold. I love seeing characters continue on and if I’m really enjoying the book, there’s nothing better than knowing another story is around the corner!

Currently I’m wrapping up Life in Motion by Misty Copeland. I picked up her book just before school started as a nice way to get back into reading more on dance. When I think back to my college days, I couldn’t believe I got to spend so much of my time immersed in dance and I thoroughly enjoyed our dance history classes. Reading and writing about dance? Yes, please and thank you, more please!

But as many people will tell you, when your hobby becomes your job, and know that dance was always more than hobby for me, things shift a bit. Your whole world revolves around the subject and there’s no other creative outlet outside of that passion which means the chance of burnout is pretty strong. So, I tend to turn off a lot of dance things at home in order to recharge a bit. I listen to podcasts, I ready murder mysteries and fantasies, I cook and bake, study fashion bloggers, and anything else I can find to let my dancer brain rest.

I wish I could be that person that’s always fueled by it, completely content to think, talk, dream, do nothing but dance, but I’m simply not. For a long time I thought that made me a terrible dancer if I wasn’t 1,000% committed all the time. I actually came to realize that it helps make me a more well rounded person and therefore better at my job because I can get perspective.

In any case, I thought this year I could dedicate some time outside of work to dance a little more often and do it because I wanted to, not because I needed research for a project or lecture. See the difference there? Whether that was spending an afternoon watching a dance documentary or a musical or reading a dance related book, I just wanted to enjoy it simply for pleasure again.

So here we are, reading Misty Copeland’s book and I’m definitely enjoying it. I only knew a fraction of her story and I was always fascinated with her. My niece in particular thinks she’s amazing and she is. How she got where she is was truly a path of hard work, dedication, pure love for the art, and a whole heck of a lot of believers supporting her.

Alright y’all, that’s my Sunday wrap up! I’ve got a week full of choreography and grading ahead so it’s time to get back to work. But if you’ve got any reading suggestions, let me know in the comments section. I’m always looking for another good read!

Penny likes a good read so long as there’s cheek scratches to go with it!

Penny likes a good read so long as there’s cheek scratches to go with it!

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Summer Books

Summer reading, had me a blast! Summer reading, happens so fast!

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Okie dokie--someone got me stuck on Grease here recently and those darned songs just get stuck in your head! Not the point of the post, but summer reading actually is! My goal this summer was ten books and I'm a little bit behind. OK, I'm a lot behind! No worries, I'm sure I'll catch up and with a set time of reading for 20 minutes each night before bed, I'm sure to make it happen. So long as I don't get sucked into scrolling Insta...

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

I reached out on Facespace a while back for good recommendations to read and so many people hit me up with awesome sounding novels. I'm working my way through the list right, but here's what I've read and loved so far: 

1. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Oh. My. Gah. Wonderful read. So many moments I just did not see coming and the author did a great job of throwing me some curve balls when I thought I knew exactly what was going on. Get it. You won't regret it!

PS--Amy Adams and Julianne Moore are starring in the movie version! Just announced last week! 

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

2. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Beautiful novel about three women that come together in the aftermath of WWII, becoming a new family, working through their ghosts and all that happens after. It was just an incredible read based on the author's stories from her grandmother--I read that after I finished it because you just feel like every story told is so very, very real. 

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Alright, it's a total young adult novel, but I still enjoyed it. I definitely got vibes of Katniss and every other female heroine in a dystopian universe that's out there lately including the love triangle. Still in all, it was a fun quick read for adventurous story. 

I use the Overdrive app to rent books from the library. I've put several on hold and when they pop up, I have a week to read them before they disappear. Needless to say I've started several and haven't finished them yet including The Wife Between Us, another suspense book I really want to finish! I'm patiently waiting my turn (again) for about four incomplete books right now...whoops! 

Just got to a good part! 

Just got to a good part! 

I'm working my way through Nightingale currently and really enjoying it, another WWII historic fiction this time about two sisters. Truly, I think historic fiction is probably one of my favorite book categories. In any case, back to reading! I've got another four books to finish after this one! 

What books are you reading this summer?  

Our little hambone, Penny. She's a sucker for those belly rubs! 

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Dreaming of a Book Filled Christmas

OK, it may be November still but I'm already dreaming of Christmas break! Only another week and a half of classes and then a week of finals. Sure, there's a ton of things to do between now and then but as soon as the grades are, my office is picked up, and the fall chapter closed, I will be happily in my home embracing all the Christmas wonderfulness this season! 

What, pray tell, does that include? A ton of reading! 

I was getting really great at taking 15-30 minutes a night to read an unwind and when the Thanksgiving break hit, my reading slowed to a halt. Next week is show week so you know there won't be any time for pleasure reading since we'll be up in the theater every night. I figured this would be a good time to start plotting my next reads for the break. 

Poldark

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I've been obsessed with the show ever since Big Sister told me about it. I literally set up a nest on my guest bed, made myself hot tea and embroidered while I traveled back to 1770 something for all of seasons 1, 2, and 3. It was heaven! 

I can't wait until season four to know what's happening so I think it's only reasonable I dive into the series! 

Little Women

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I guess I'm into these older tales, but at least I've jumped to the 1860's! As much as I love the story and the movie, I have never sat down to actually read this book. I don't know why, it just seems like a perfect Christmas time story to read. Perhaps it's the idea of family, sisterhood, and love, all those feel good emotions that pop up around the holidays. 

The Snowman

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I know, a total left turn from the historic line and romantic era, but I've been into suspense novels as of late and this one just looks like a good winter spook. Might have to save it for January but it's definitely one at the top of the list for me. Sounds like a good one story to me! 

 

All I have to do know is make it through all the grading and then, it's all about relaxing and enjoying some much deserved down time! 

What kind of books are you looking to sit down with this December? 

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Fall Greetings

It's fall, y'all! 

Well...

As close to fall as we get here in Oklahoma, although, it's certainly more fall than Texas, that's for sure! We've got falling leaves and the temperatures are dropping, too. It's that time of year you leave your house wrapped up for winter and come home stripped down to your skivvies. The weather is ridiculously fickle, but hey! That's fall in OK for ya!

Speaking of fall, it is October, end of the month, really, and I've found myself craving some good ol' Halloween tales. Some spooks. Things that make your brain go "eek!" While I'm not a blood and goop reader, I do enjoy a good suspense story and I found two I really enjoyed: 

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

The Dry by Jane Harper 

I found My Husband's Wife as a recommendation on Pinterest--there's so many book recommendations on there, it's ridiculous, but also very helpful, really. I really enjoyed the journey of the story. Each piece of information you got kept you thinking what would each twist in the plot lead you to next.

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The Dry was a Reese Witherspoon recommendation. Not that I know Reese personally, I just happened to read her list on People.com. Yes, I do love to read me some People. Anyway, I devoured this story! Our protagonist is on a quest to find out if his friend really did commit a heinous crime or if it's a cover-up from a secret they both kept from long ago. So. Flipping. Good. Go read it. Seriously. Go. 

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And if you want something a little more fantastical, something with a bit of mystery, try The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern. I loved it and it totally fueled my creative imagination in a way I really needed. 

I'm on to my next book and hoping to keep the good reads coming. I've been trying to make it a nightly habit to leave the phone on the charger and read rather than scroll. My brain needed some refueling and I'm happy to say I get so much more by activating my imagination with these stories than mindlessly scrolling for the forty eleventh time. 

Oh! One last thing! I've gotten picky about buying books and with as much as I'm trying to read, I just can't go out and buy book after book. I use the OverDrive app and you might want to try it, too! It's your library online! I connect to my local library using my library card, of course, and I check out books for 7 or 14 day periods. I have a wish list that I keep and holds I put on books that I want to read when they come available. It's awesome! Check it out if you haven't tried it yet. 

What books are you reading these days? Any favorite spookers or suspense novels? Share! 

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Summer Reading: Book 1

As a kid there were certain things that happened at the start of summertime. One, summer had to be kicked off with an ice cream cone or a shaved ice. Second, a trip to the library for a summer reading list. There was always a program where kids could earn little hamburger coupons to McDonald's depending on how many books you read. In short, reading equaled happy meals.

Well, my love of reading grew over time and earning coupons just wasn't necessary. Reading was an escape, an adventure, a way to visit a whole other world. I  think it's a wonderful way to spend time, but alas, I'm not very good about reading in my free time during the school year. Guess what though? It's summer time, baby, and time to hit the books! 

I just got a library card (don't judge, I just never took the time to get one when I moved back to OKC) and I'm ready to catch up on all the books I've been keeping on a list! My goal every summer is to read ten books. Some years I hit it, some years I don't. Doesn't matter because I still get to enjoy the gift of a book! 

First up this season, The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica MorganIf you like Princess Kate, Duchess of Cambridge,  and are anywhere remotely interested in her romance with Prince William, then you'll be guaranteed to enjoy the book. If nothing about the royal couple intrigues you, better steer clear of this one then! 

I first heard about the novel last summer while listening to a podcast on one of my many road trips that season. I was completely enamored with the story mainly because I think the Duchess of Cambridge is the epitome of classy. I've been waiting for the chance to sit down and devour this fictional royal love affair. 

They Royal We takes you through the relationship of American girl, Rebecca "Bex" and her real life prince charming, Nick. It's an easy read, completely fictional, but the authors have done a great job trying to immerse you in what they imagined dating a royal would be like. There's love, drama, and all the other good things a clean royal romance would need. In short, a fun summer read if you're the type of person to wake up an absurdly early time just to watch the Royal Wedding and weep through the entire ceremony. 

Thanks, Amazon, for the pic! 

Happy reading! 

What's something you've got your nose stuck in currently? 

 

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