25 July 2016

What I Read ~ July

Hello Friends .. 

July is here and gone already ... wow it seems like just yesterday that I was writing June's what I read and now I'm posting July's. I'm still in somewhat of a book hangover from A court of mist and fury from last month but there have been a few books this month that have somewhat helped with it. Also, if you are a ACOMAF fan you should check out Sarah on tumbler. She has a fanfic that's call A court of war and starlight and it is wonderful. :) Anyways, as for my reading list this month I was able to read 9 books this month and am now up to 54 books for my 100 books in 2016 Goodreads reading challenge.

Also this month I started a Jane Austen reading challenge with my friend Christine from Christine Everyday. We are both somewhat obsessed with Jane Austen anything so we decided to do a challenge where we read at least one Jane Austen book a month. After we read the book we set up a time to discuss the book and what we liked and didn't like. We've read two already and I'm excited to read more. :) 

Top Reads of June

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh | ★★★★
I decided to read this book because I heard so many great things about it and it did not disappoint. I loved this series so much! Its a story inspired by A thousand and one nights story. This tells the story of Khalid, the boy-king, who every night takes a new bride and every morning his new bride is dead. When Shahrsad's dearest friend becomes the kings latest victim she decides to volunteer to become his bride and end his terrible reign of terror before he can kill her. So each night to stay alive she tells him stories and refuses to tell him the end until the next day, therefore staying alive. The king is intrigued and very much attached to Shahrsad and shocking and unbelievably to her she begins to fall for the king. She comes to realizes that he isn't a monster at all but there is something that everyone knows nothing about. And she vows to help him save himself and their kingdom from the people that are trying to destroy it. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh ★★★★
In the 2nd book in this series war is on the verge of happening and Khalid & Shahrsad have been seperated from each other. Since book one Shahrsad has learned her beloved husbands secrets and has discovered that he isn't the merciless, heartless killer everyone thinks he is but he is an extrodanary man trying to break a curse and save his kingdom and his people from death and ruin. However, there are many people who see him as the monster that Shazi knew him has and she is determined to show them their real king. Torn between loyalties of family & friends and the man she loves she will do whatever he has to to keep both alive. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars too.  

The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski | ★★★★☆
The Winner's Curse ~ In this first book we are introduced to Kestrel and Arin. Kestrel is a general's daughter who has two choices given her. Join the military or get married. She decides she doesn't want to do either. She finds a kendrid spirit in a slave up for auction and buys him and comes to reap the unexpected consequences of that decision. Kestrel finds herself falling in love with Arin, but Arin has a secret of his own that could tear them apart. 

The Winner's Crime ~ In book two Kestrel risks betrayal of her country and family for love. To save Arin and his country she decides to marry the crown prince and live her life in a cage of her own making. She desperately wants to tell Arin the truth but she doesn't know if she can trust him with all of her secrets of being a spy and she is afraid for him as well if the king finds out of her betrayal. Arin however, suspects that Kestrel is hiding something. In the end the truth comes out and it has devastating consequences for both.

The Winner's Kiss ~ War has come and Arin finds himself in the middle of it and has the empire as his enemy and untrustworthy allies. He has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel and he can't believe she has become what he despises most, a person who cares for the empire more than innocent lives and most certainly more than him. However, he still can't forget her. However, what he doesn't know is just how much Kestrel has given up and suffered for him. As the war intensifies both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing and they are caught in between.  

Honorable Mentions

Only Mr Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise | ★★★☆☆
This was the first book I read for the Jane Austen challenge and I enjoy it quite a bit. It tells the story from the perspective of if Mr Bennet had died. What would become of the girls and would Mr Darcy and Lizzie still get together and if so. How? It was very interesting. I liked it. 

My Own Mr Darcy by Karey White | ★★☆
This was our second book and I have to say I didn't like this one as well. It was more of a modern twist on the story and they made the Mr Darcy character look bad and I can't have that. So it only got 2 stars from me. 

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas | ★★
So you all know how much I've been obsessing over ACOMAF. Well, I'm actually going to a signing for the new book coming out in the TOG series JUST so I can get her to sign my ACOTAR and ACOMAF books. However, since I'm going to the signing I thought I should at least know a little about the series the signing is for, that was the reason for starting this series but now I'm actually intrigued. I'm sure you all know what this series is about because I'm way behind but if not goodreads has a great description. :) I'm team Chaol!!!! 
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas | ★★★
This is the second book in the series and I didn't like it has much as the first. Again the discription on goodreads is good...go check it out. :) I still ship Chaol but I have a feeling I'm going to get my little heart crushed and I'm not ready for that and NO I don't want to meet Rowan ....I don't care how great he is. :( lolol! 

So what did you read in June? Do you have any good suggestions for me? 

27 June 2016

What I Read ~ June

Hello Friends .. 

Long time no see. I know its been a while and I would like to say that I'm back for good but I'm not sure I'm ready for that for a couple of different reasons. I'm trying to figure out the direction of this blog. I know I love this post every month where I tell you about what I read and I might start trying to do some more book related posts, possibly life updates but I'm just not sure. I hope you will stick with me while I figure this out. Now lets get on to the good stuff. 

So June ... I loved my reading list for June. I do have to admit that one book stood out more than any others and honestly I'm still in a book hangover because of that book. However there for a couple of other books I liked as well and I'm excited to tell you all about these books. I was able to read 8 books this month and am now up to 45 books for my 100 books in 2016 Goodreads reading challenge.

Top Reads of June

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | ★★★★
This is the 2nd book in Sarah J Maas's "A Court of Thorns and Roses" series. This book picks up 3 months after the last book ended. Feyre is back at the Spring Court and not fairing very well after her encounter under the mountain. She suffers from PTSD, her and Tamlin are having a difficult time and Feyre hasn't forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two. Guys I have to say I am still suffering from a book hangover after this book. I absolutely adored it. If you haven't read this series I would recommend it. If you read the first and didn't care for it I urge you to give the second a try. It was really so good. I'm loving Sarah J Maas's work so much. I started the Throne of Glass series this month as well. 

Confess by Colleen Hoover ★★★★☆
Confess is somewhat of a love story/mystery. It follows Auburn & Owen. Auburn has her life mapped out until she walks into Owens art studio for a job and is attracted to the very unique artist himself. Audrey takes a huge risk in letting Owen into her life and heart but Owen has a secret that he isn't sharing. His secret could cause Audrey some major problems and when it comes out it could destroy what they have built. I liked this book. It kept me interested and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I had already read November 9 by Colleen Hoover and I loved it so I gave this one a shot. I'm glad I did. It was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone.  

Winter by Marissa Meyer | ★★★★☆
*Goodreads* Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Let me just say, if you haven't read the Lunar Chronicles you should pick it up. This was the conclusion of the series and I loved that it tied up all the loose ends and I loved it. I loved getting to know Cinder, Scarlett, Cress, & Winter. I'm sad that the series is over.  

Honorable Mentions

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han | ★★★☆☆
I've heard so much about Jenny Han and her "To all the boys I loved before" series. The last time I was at half price books I decided to try it out. They didn't have that series but they had her other series. I liked this books alright, I will probably read the others but probably just so I can find out the end. It wasn't the best book.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher | ★★★☆
This book had a lot of hype and personally {nobody hate me for this but} I didn't think it lived up to all the hype. In the words of Randy Jackson "it was just alright for me." lol!
Yours Completely by Krista Lakes | ★★☆☆☆
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson | ★★★☆☆
This was another author and book that I saw ALL OVER THE PLACE and heard such great things about it and I just really didn't think that much of either. Again please don't hate me. I will have to give Morgan Matson another try at some point. Maybe I will like another book better. fingers crossed. Cress by Marissa Meyer | ★★★★☆
Loved this! Read it!

So what did you read in June? Do you have any good suggestions for me? 

15 June 2016

After I Do ~ Walking Through Tragedy [as one] w/ Natalie

Hello Friends ... 

Welcome to "After I Do" a series where we talk all about marriage. The good, the bad, & the happily ever after. I love writing about marriage and the lessons I've learned along the way so I decided to turn it into a series where we can discuss all kinds of topics on marriage and beyond. I'm glad you decided to join us today. I'm excited to have my friend, Natalie as my guest today. I love reading Natalie's blog, and I've been so excited and happy for everything that is going on in her life right now. I've been so uplifted and blessed to watch how the Lord has blessed them and worked through them. Natalie is such an encourager and I'm so excited to have her today. Thanks for stopping by ... you won't be disappointed by what she has to say. Take it away friend ...  :) 

walking through tragedy together
2015 was the Year of Tears for us Brenners. My husband isn't one to shed tears and I certainly am. But his eyes let drops fall more than I had ever witnessed in the short 5 years we have been together. Loren (the one my soul loves) and I have had a truly sappy marriage. Perfect? By no means. Happy? Mostly. On fire for Jesus? In the beginning, but we definitely let our joy slip during 2015, the Year of Tears and Tragedy, and are finding our way back into the in-love-ness of our Savior. December 2014 marked a little more than 1.5 years of trying to conceive. We knew it would be difficult, but never did we expect the trial to run deep grief into our hearts. We began fertility treatments that month, which failed. We attempted again in January. In the middle of that January cycle, we decided that the treatments were too taxing emotionally and physically for me and my body. We had known since dating that we wanted to adopt; we had been saving bits of each paycheck and chunks of our tax returns for an adoption. So the conversation began to bloom into reality: should we begin the process of adoption now, rather than later? We may as well, right?

You can read about how we landed on the path we chose HERE. Right before signing a contract with our consultant, I did my routine pregnancy test and discovered: TWO LINES! I couldn't believe it. I kept it a secret to myself that day and cherished every moment. The next morning I put together Loren's gifts I had been saving for over a year, set up my phone to record him opening it, and when he did, he of course let those tears of joy roll! Neither of us could believe it. We danced and laughed and he pretended to hear our baby which was the size of a sesame seed. We emailed our soon-to-be consultant and let her know, "Hey! We are pregnant and due late October/early November! We will contact you again in August to see about starting our adoption process."   Soon enough the blood came rushing and we lost that little one. Our entire life was already planned around having a little one at Christmas, 2015. We were going to announce the pregnancy while in Europe in April, possibly while standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. That summer I could take those fun bumpy photos with my best pal, Jesse, who was due in August. The loss hit us hard, and we spent hours, days, crying together in our bedroom. Our tears ran together and that was all we heard: our tears and mourning spoke loud the sadness of our hearts. empty arms pregnancy loss
The entire year was covered in grief; when I looked out over the upcoming months, all I could see was darkness. Loss. Life without my belly rounding large by Halloween and without a baby by Christmas. In September, we discovered once again that I was pregnant. The tears continued to flow: mine were from fear and fright, his from joy and jubilee. I could not imagine losing another, he could not imagine life without our newest nug. my pregnancy after loss
In October we were fired for false reasons, degraded by a man we looked up to, given an actual gag-order termination letter (which was of course replaced once read by others), and rumors flew around about us that were far from the truth. Rumors that were straight up lies. We lost the church community, the family, we had built our entire life around. I don't believe I could ever put to words the actual loss that happened. We were planning to transition out of a Youth Ministry position, but not the way it happened. Not by being fired and told how toxic and selfish we are, not by being banned from a community we sacrificed for, not by being burned by people you believed loved you like family. That tragedy resulted in not only a job and community loss, but a major identity shift, career changes, lifestyle transitions, questions about Church and God and Vocational Ministry, and major heart damage. Wounds that run deep and are still healing; burns that leave scars. december 2015 goals
Loren and I will more than likely always look back on 2015 as one of those rough years. A year of pain, loss, tragedy. The Year of Tears. But the beauty of it is this: we walked through it together. Yes, there were times we were so irritable and hurting that we responded to one another in that and hurt the other. We were not perfect while walking through it. [Heck, we are still walking through it.] But we always came back and had this raw and honest conversation together: "I am so sorry. I am not even angry with you. I am just hurting. Will you forgive me for biting at your soul? How are you? What are you processing today? We are on the same team. Let's look at this together and not be offended by one another." We always came back, by the end of the day if not sooner, and reminded one another: we are on the same team. We are one. This tragedy hurts us both in deep and fierce ways. We can add to that grief and pain, or we can team up and build one another up. We can be one another's biggest advocate for healing, biggest supporter, main prayer warrior. I believe that if we as married couples are able to continue reminding one another, "we are on the same team; this war is not between me and you, but between the evil rulers of this world (Ephesians 6)," that we are able to have raw and honest conversations without being offended when we shouldn't be. I believe that we are able to be honest with one another's soul's, caring for them tenderly, especially while walking through tragedy. We do our best to put ourselves in the other's shoes. When Loren was fired, he was told how unhealthy and toxic he is. How detrimental we are to a church. I knew from the moment I heard that that those were lies. I imagined being told that by someone I look up to greatly, and my soul was crushed. I could not imagine how much more my husband's soul was crushed. So while walking through that tragedy, instead of only focusing on my own grief and pain, I asked Jesus to give me understanding for my husband. What was he walking through? How was he feeling? Did he need to be reminded who he was? Did he need reminded by me, his wife, that he is not in fact this horrible, prideful, selfish person he was told he was? As wives, we have the power to build our men up more than anyone else. Even through tragedy. Tragedy will come your way. It is the way of this broken earth. So the question is: will you walk through it hand in hand with your spouse? Remembering you are on the same team? Or will you walk through it allowing bitterness to enter your marriage, separating you where it doesn't need or have to? My name is Natalie Brenner. I went from Youth Pastor's wife to soon-to-be Teacher's Wife. I write over at Natalie Brenner Writes about pursuing wholeness, despite the brokenness. I write honest things, things that some people cringe at and ask me to remove; but I believe that honesty is the first step to wholesome healing.