Category Archives: book review

Favorite Books From 2016

Since I had a LOT of free time this year I read a lot of books! If you want to see my full Year In Books 2016 from Goodreads, you can check that out here. Instead of sharing ALL of the 120 or so books I read (I’m not that intense, many were short or “easy” reads and most were from Kindle Unlimited), I thought I’d just pick and choose a few favorites. I hope you find something you might like to read!

The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah

This book was absolutely beautiful. I wrote a full review here, but this was one of the best books I’ve ever read, sharing two very differently brave women during a difficult time in history.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is perfect for anyone with any inkling of creativity in them (aka everyone!). I loved how she told so many stories from her life and used them to teach us how to put fear in the backseat and drive our own lives.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

The Raven Boys Series by Maggie Stiefvater

I was skeptical at the beginning of this series, but I ended up loving them. I listened to the last two books while driving to and from Kansas City and couldn’t stop when the drive was over – I was constantly dying to see what would happen next!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Gansey is different. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

For the first few chapters, I felt like I was reading the same kind of book that I’d read before, but slowly Jen really grew on me and by the end my mind was exploding. It was like she was talking to me – about all my fears and self-doubt and how to overcome them. Highly recommend!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bestselling author, speaker, and success coach Jen Sincero cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver. Full of blunt humor, sage advice, and the occasional swear word, You are a Badass offers its readers new opportunities for growth through 35 chapters of exercises, suggestions, and hilariously inspiring stories.

From “Fear is for Suckers” to “Your Brain is Your Bitch” these chapters provide enlightening lessons: How to stop doubting your greatness, how to love what you don’t love about yourself, and how to tap into source energy to live a bigger life than you’ve ever imagined.

Through The Fire Series by Elizabeth Johns

There are actually only two of the three books out for this series, but I had to share it. If you like historical romantic novels, then these are for you. More of a fun read, but I couldn’t put them down.

Goodreads synopsis:

When two people have walked through fire, can love bring the healing and help they need?

Spurned by love, Lady Margaux Ashbury has no use for the other eligible gentlemen of London. Despite her beauty, her sharp tongue soon earns her a reputation as a dragon. Convincing her parents to let her retreat to their Scottish estate, a home for abandoned young women, Margaux feels she can do something meaningful with her life. At their wits’ end, her parents believe a few months in seclusion will teach her to appreciate her privileged existence, and accept the next gentleman of worth who offers for her. Margaux has no plans to yield. But neither she nor her parents bargain for the proximity of the gorgeous, blue-eyed Scotsman on the neighbouring estate.

Gavin Craig, content with his life as a country doctor, is unexpectedly thrust into the world of aristocratic society after the accidental deaths of his brother and nephews. With all the duties his new title entails, and his adoption of three orphans, Gavin desperately needs a wife. She should preferably be a lady, trained since birth to manage a noble house, servants and family. His former disdain for a marriage of convenience has been rapidly overcome by the colossal task of learning to run a large Scottish barony. One lovely candidate is right next door … except that she’s inexplicably determined to be a spinster…

Awoken (The Lucidites Series) by Sarah Noffke

Can’t make a book list without a young adult distopian series! Another series that I just couldn’t put down, this was reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Divergent. A lot of interesting characters and plot twists!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Around the world humans are hallucinating after sleepless nights.

In a sterile, underground institute the forecasters keep reporting the same events.

And in the backwoods of Texas, a sixteen-year-old girl is about to be caught up in a fierce, ethereal battle.

Meet Roya Stark. She drowns every night in her dreams, spends her hours reading classic literature to avoid her family’s ridicule, and is prone to premonitions—which are becoming more frequent. And now her dreams are filled with strangers offering to reveal what she has always wanted to know: Who is she? That’s the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. But will Roya live to regret learning the truth?

6 Inspirational Books That Every Woman Should Read

A great book can make a huge difference in your life, especially if you read it at a time when you need it the most. This collection of books is particularly wonderful for women who are looking to enhance their lives through changing their mindset because our attitudes and thoughts shape who are in this world. Read through and find one that strikes you now, but save the list for later because another book might speak to you in another phase in your life.


  1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

In her newest book, Elizabeth Gilbert shares her own wisdom and perspective on creativity, sharing story after story of how it has grown and matured through her own life as a writer. Creativity doesn’t just mean that you write or paint, it can apply to so many areas in your life. Most importantly, Gilbert encourages her readers to put fear in the backseat and go for what we most dream of in life.

  1. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Although for men and women alike, The Slight Edge is a book that everyone should read at least once during their lifetime.

“The Slight Edge shows you how to create powerful results from the simple daily activities of your life, by using tools already within you… This edition of The Slight Edge will show you how to create life-altering dynamics-how a way of thinking, a way of processing information can impact daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire. The Slight Edge is “the key” that will make all the other how-to books and self-help information that you read, watch and hear actually work.” (Source)

  1. I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones

I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones

It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to figure out where we fit into this world, what our purpose is, and whether or not we’re good enough to go after the things we dream of having. Alexis jones inspires women to realize that we are all good enough, right now. You don’t need to have the perfect body, job, relationship or anything else because those things don’t exist. Live the life that you want NOW because it’s absolutely possible.

  1. Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini

Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrossini

We all have that voice inside our heads telling us that we can’t do this or that because we’re not good enough or we don’t deserve it. Maybe we don’t recognize it consciously, but Melissa Ambrosini gives you a practical guide for noticing that voice, seeing where it’s holding you back in life, and then taking it down step by step. The result? Embracing the amazing life that’s standing right in front of you.

  1. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero


Jen Sincero takes the concept of a self-help book and turns it into a series of hilarious stories and plenty of practical tips. Throughout the 35 chapters, each with their own topic, she teaches you to stop doubting yourself, how to love who you are just as you are, and how to tap into your source to create a life you’re excited to live out every day.

  1. The Gift of Imperfections by Brene Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Brene Brown is a well-known researcher who has spent her life studying vulnerability and shame. Not a topic that typically comes up at the dinner table? We all tend to avoid these topics, which is why it’s all the more important to bring them to light. Brene shares her ten guideposts to help us cultivate the courage, connection, and compassion to realize that no matter what we accomplish, we are good enough. My favorite sentiment? When you are afraid you are also brave. One cannot live without the other.


What’s one book that you found helpful? 

Which of these would you want to read for this point in your life? 

If you liked this, please go ahead and share with friends! We can all use some positivity in our lives <3

Good Things Come With A Battle

On Sunday I had the chance to go to church with two friends from Chicago who now live here in Colorado and I loved the sermon from that day. The pastor started with a story about a friend of his who went elk hunting all the time but had never caught an elk. Fourteen years later he finally got one and couldn’t be more ecstatic. His point? Sometimes the good things take a long time, a lot of fighting, and plenty of persistence and we have to decide whether that battle is worth the outcome.

He spoke about how God may promise us good things in life but we often have to go through some serious battles to get to those places, just like when God told Joshua and the Israelites he would give them the promised land, but they had to go through 31 battles to claim the land. He then brought the story to our current lives and how many, many times in life God could have been setting amazing opportunities in front of us, but once we meet any resistance we turn around and go back home, back into our comfort zone.

It’s amazing how many great things we could be experiencing in life if we just had a little more faith and patience.

How do we know if we should quit or keep going? First, figure out where your battles are in life and then decide if the outcome you’re working for is worth the fight. Just because we meet resistance with something we want in life doesn’t mean our intuition is off or it’s just not meant to be. Listen to your gut, intuition, Holy Spirit, or whatever you want to call it, and if it’s something that is important to you and your values, then keep moving and fighting and the rewards will be worth the battle.

His sermon actually reminds me quite a bit of what I’m learning reading The Slight Edge. In the book, the author also talks about the importance of patience; the willingness to do the mundane, daily tasks; and time. He specifically says,

“The secret time is simply this: time is the force that magnifies those little, almost imperceptible, seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and unstoppable.”

There’s no such thing as instant success or an overnight success. Sure, it may seem like a business either succeeded or flopped overnight, but in truth, someone was either doing positive or negative daily habits, every day for a long time to make that happen. Can you think of a time in life where you look back and ask yourself how that passed by so quickly? I sure can! But did it feel quick while you were in it? Law school certainly didn’t feel fast reading through each and every one of those cases, or writing those memos, but when it was all said and done it felt like it flew by.


This concept can apply to almost everything in life and is why so many people quit early on. For example, let’s say you add in some healthy habits to your every day schedule. You’re not going to see instant results or feedback in just a couple weeks, which is what we are all so used to these days. But what if you KEPT doing those habits every single day for 3 months? Or 6 months? That’s when you really start to see the results. Everyone else around you will think you suddenly lost 10lbs and got a healthy glow, but you know it took a long time, consistent action, and patience.

So don’t give up.

As Jeff Olson says, “The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.” No matter what your battle is right now or how long it’s taking you to get to where you want to go, don’t give up. You never know when the momentum is going to kick in and you start to see the results that you want to see.

So true!:

What are you fighting for right now?

Are you reading or listening to anything good right now? Feel free to share! 

The Slight Edge: An Introduction and a Concept Worth Considering

I just started reading a new book called The Slight Edge and wanted to share my very first takeaway with all of you about how the little habits in our lives are what make us successful. Becuase you know I’m all about changing our small habits to make a big change in our lives!


In the introduction to The Slight Edge, the author, Jeff Olson, says that when we’re close to or at the point of failure, we do daily little actions to bring us back to a level of average, or survival mode, which is where we feel comfortable.

But the problem is that we then STOP doing these actions, leading us slowly back down towards failure, only to recognize what’s happening and start back up with our positive habits again until we get back to average. Can you see how this becomes a cycle of oscillating between the levels of comfortable and falling apart?

BUT if we KEEP UP those daily little actions even when we’re feeling comfortable and average, we can get up to  the level of success…

… and if we KEEP DOING THEM at the level of success, then we can actually STAY there. Jeff Olson says that everyone is an average person, but we don’t have to live an average life. We get to choose to become successful by simply working hard and doing these simple little actions every day and doing them with a positive philosophy, which then trickles down into our attitude, our actions, and the rest of our life.

This concept translates so well into exercise.

Often, we find the right way to start losing weight and once we’ve lost a few lbs we think, oh great! And those little habits start to slip. We skip a few workouts, we have a few days where we skimp on the veggies, and sooner or later we find ourselves back where we started. BUT if we had just kept up those positive habits like getting enough sleep, eating lots of vegetables every day, exercising 5-6 times a week, etc., then we can reach a level where we feel AMAZING rather than just average or comfortable.

Again, this idea applies to any goal in our lives, not just exercise. Whether you want to succeed in school, in your job, make a difference in your church, create a great homeschool for your children, remodel your house, save money, etc. You CAN be really successful, you just have to keep up the habits that get you there past the level of being comfortable.

But why don’t we do that?

I believe we all have a level of fear of success within us and I’ve definitely recognized it within myself. Many of us have this deep down fear of what will happen if we do succeed? Then what? What if we can’t live up to everyone’s expectations or keep it up? It’s so much easier to stay in a realm where we KNOW we can handle the circumstances and we feel comfortable. But is that where you want to live all aspects of your life? Or do you want to give success a try? I know I do!

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just reading the introduction of The Slight Edge has created so many revelations for me in various areas of my life. It inspired me to sit down and really think about where I’m stopping and letting myself be average, and what habits I can work on to improve in the future and head towards success. Some of mine include:

  • Connect with a new person every day.
  • Workout/move six times per week.
  • Eat 5 servings of vegetables every day.
  • Do visualization and meditation every morning.
  • Center myself and prepare well before every call with a client.
  • Get outside every day.
  • Apply to a new job every day
  • Read my bible every day.
  • Write down things I’m grateful for every evening.

The key for me is to KEEP doing these things after they start working, rather than think I’m good now and stop doing them every day. Hopefully, this book will have some tools to help me do just that!

Did this concept make you realize anything about your life?

What are a couple habits that you need to start and/or keep up every day, no matter what?

Book Review Palooza!

Remember back in the day when I used to do book reviews? Yea, that feels like a long time ago. I’ve read a LOT of books this year (91 to be exact…) so I thought it was about time I shared my thoughts on some of them! Let’s not pretend all 91 were New York Times Best Sellers list novels or anything, haha, there are definitely some fun, quick reads on that list and I thought I’d try to share a bit of a selection.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


I finally started this series after it had been recommended to me a few times and I have to say I’m intrigued. The first book left off very open-endedly, so these are definitely one story broken up into different books, but I am enjoying the story so far and I like that the author went in more of a sci-fi direction, which makes it different from a lot of the YA dystopian novels I’ve read in the past.


In the Land of the Long White Cloud by Sarah Lark

In the Land of the Long White Cloud

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis:

Helen Davenport, governess for a wealthy London household, longs for a family of her own—but nearing her late twenties and with no dowry, her prospects are dim. Responding to an advertisement seeking young women to marry New Zealand’s honorable bachelors, she corresponds with a gentleman farmer. When her church offers to pay her travels under an unusual arrangement, she jumps at the opportunity.

Meanwhile, not far away in Wales, beautiful and daring Gwyneira Silkham, daughter of a wealthy sheep breeder, is bored with high society. But when a mysterious New Zealand baron deals her father an unlucky blackjack hand, Gwyn’s hand in marriage is suddenly on the table. Her family is outraged, but Gwyn is thrilled to escape the life laid out for her.

The two women meet on the ship to Christchurch—Helen traveling in steerage, Gwyn first class—and become unlikely friends. When their new husbands turn out to be very different than expected, the women help one another in ways they never anticipated.

Set against the backdrop of colonial nineteenth-century New Zealand, In the Land of the Long White Cloud is a soaring saga of friendship, romance, marriage and adventure.


Since I read so much, I use Kindle Unlimited ($9.99/month) rather than buying each individual book that I read. One of the books recommended to me on Kindle Unlimited was The Land of the Long White Cloud and I have to say, I was first drawn in by the cover and after reading the description, I thought, “this could be interesting?” It turns out I had no idea what I was in for. About 12% in (kindle talk for pages) after spending a couple hourse reading, I realized the book was 650 pages long… Fortunately, the only frustrating part about that was that it took so much longer to find out what happened to everyone!

This novel exceedd my expectations. From the very beginning, I was hooked on not only the two main characters’ stories, but eventually the story of every single person they came in contact with. The author had me dying to know what happened to each of them, and as a multi-generational story, by the end I finally got my answers for how each of their lives turned out. The length may make this book intimidating, but I highly recommend giving it a try!


Shelter by Harlan Coben

Shelter (Mickey Bolitar, #1)

My rating: ⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mickey Bolitar’s year can’t get much worse. After witnessing his father’s death and sending his mom to rehab, he’s forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey’s train-wreck of a life is finally improving – until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn’t who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey’s father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury – and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

First introduced to readers in Harlan Coben’s latest adult novel, Live Wire, Mickey Bolitar is as quick-witted and clever as his uncle Myron, and eager to go to any length to save the people he cares about. With this new series, Coben introduces an entirely new generation of fans to the masterful plotting and wry humor that have made him an award-winning, internationally bestselling, and beloved author.


In case you were curious, Kindle Unlimited doesn’t include very many new or overly popular books, so to find those I use the Kansas City online library. The downside of this is having to wait so long to get some books! The upside: I’ve saved myself hundreds of dollars (that I don’t have… 😉 ).

This book was another that came up on a list of books recommended for me and, like Cinder, it was unconclusive as a stand alone novel. It was a little odd, mostly because the story felt underdeveloped. New concepts or characters would pop out of nowhere and it took a lot of suspension of belief to just accept them into the story.This first one felt more like an introduction than a story in itself. I have the next book in the series on hold at the library, so I’m going to give it another chance.


Broken Grace by E.C. Diskin

Broken Grace

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis:

On an icy winter’s day in southwest Michigan, Grace Abbot wakes up as the survivor of a car crash. But she’s left with a traumatic brain injury and a terrifying reality: she can’t remember anything.

Left in the care of her sister, Grace returns to the family’s secluded old farmhouse to recover—but within an hour of her return, the police arrive. Grace’s boyfriend has been murdered. Without any memory, Grace has no alibi.

With suspicion weighing heavily on her and flashes of memory returning, Grace searches for clues to her past. But with every glimpse, her anxiety grows. There is something about the house, her family, her childhood…perhaps the accident isn’t the only reason she can’t remember. Are the dark recesses of her mind hiding something even more sinister and terrifying than she could ever imagine?

And someone is watching. Someone willing to kill again to protect a secret.


OH MY GOSH. This book was crazy and so suspensful! If you like mysteries where you’re trying to figure out who did it before the book tells you, then this is for you! And no, this is nothing like the older mystery books your parents read, it’s written in a very fresh and young tone and you quickly fall in love with Grace, the main character. I highly recommend this one!


The Other Side of Someday by T.K. Leigh

The Other Side of Someday

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis:

You know how you always say “Someday I will”?
Well, I’ve hit my someday.
Someday begins today.

Baylee Morgan is at a crossroads of her life. Leaving her marriage of ten years and the only life she’s ever known, she starts over in a penthouse ocean-front condo in Santa Monica, California. She soon finds herself immersed, albeit reluctantly, in the daunting and perilous world of dating as an almost thirty-something in Los Angeles, unsure of how to act, what to do, or whether that hot guy she meets in yoga class is straight.

Sebby Powers’ dream has always been to work in the film industry. At the age of thirty-five, he’s one of the youngest up-and-coming producers in Hollywood. His life is perfect. Perfect apartment. Perfect girlfriend. Perfect dog. Until a friendship with a beautiful new woman with vibrant red hair and a similar taste in cheesy movies throws his perfect life into a tailspin.

The Other Side Of Someday is a fun, sexy story of looking for Mr. Right in a world full of Mr. Wrongs, when Mr. Right could be just next door.


Another Kindle Unlimited read, The Other Side of Someday, was definitely a cute, fun novel, perfect for when you just want to dive into a good book to get away from the real world. I wouldn’t call it a page turner, but it was a very cute story and a fun to read.


The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis:

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?


This is a HIGHLY RECOMMEND in my book! Another cute read, and about an almost High School senior, it may not be for everyone, but I certainly didn’t feel like the author was writing for a high school audience. I actually came across this book when it was one month’s selection for Lauren Conrad’s blog’s book club and I’ve been waiting for it at the library for months! It was a very cute story and I really got into it and fell in love with all of the characters. It’s only partially a romance, but so much more about both friends and figuring out who we are as people both with and without the relationships around us. Such a fun book!


What are you reading right now?

What’s one of your favorite books you’ve EVER read?