MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Tag Archive: Books Read in 2019

5 Books I Finished in April

Want to know what books I finished in April? In 2019, I’m sharing the books I read each month and what my honest thoughts were on those books. If you love books, you don’t want to miss this post! (You can see all of my book reviews for this year here.)

5 Books I Finished in April

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own. (You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress! And I’ve been ahead on my goal for the last month!

I finished 5 books in April — yay! Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books:

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Troublemaker by Leah Remini

1. Troublemaker

This book had been highly recommended multiple times. When I found it available on Libby, I “checked it out” and started listening to it. Honestly, I almost didn’t keep listening because she has such a strong and brash personality.

But I’m glad I stuck with it because her story was fascinating and sad… but worth listening to/reading. I really had no understanding of what Scientology was before this book and while I know that this is just one person’s story, it was shocking to hear of her experiences in the Church of Scientology, what she was required to do, how she was mistreated, and how much money she paid into the Church as a member.

Note: There is strong and crass language in this book.

Verdict: 3 stars

The Glass Castle

2. The Glass Castle

After I read Hillbilly Elegy, multiple people said I had to read The Glass Castle. Again, I found it was available on Libby, so I checked it out.

It’s one of those stories that I don’t know how to describe. It was engaging and thought-provoking, but also incredibly sad and haunting.

It’s the story of a woman who grew up in a very dysfunctional and poor family… and yet, despite the dysfunction, there’s also this layer of mystique that she paints her parents in. Like, you want to really dislike them, but you can’t fully allow yourself to because they also have these likable traits, too.

The book left me wishing I could have a conversation with the author and her siblings. It was also one — like Hillybilly Elegy — that I wished I would going through in a Book Club setting so I could discuss my big and sometimes disparate feelings about the book.

Note: There is language in the book and also some various details and stories that could be triggering, depending upon your background.

Verdict: 3 stars

Point of View by Elizabeth Hasslebeck

3. Point of View

This book is part memoir, part self-help. Elisabeth Hasselbeck shares lessons she learned from being on Survivor, being on The View, being fired from The View, being co-host on Fox & Friends, and ultimately deciding to leave television and focus on being a wife and mom.

I appreciated her candid honesty about her struggles with pushing herself too hard, trying to do too much, and not acknowledging her limitations and capacity. I also loved the behind-the-scenes stuff she shared about being on the various shows she’s been on.

My complaint with the book is that I wanted more. 🙂 I would have loved to hear even more details on what it was like to be on Survivor, be on The View, co-host Fox & Friends, be wife to a NFL player, and come home full-time to be a mom.

Verdict: 3 starts

As Many Reps as Possible

4. As Many Reps As Possible

I wanted so much to like this book. I loved Chasing Excellence and was hoping this would be a similar book.

It’s written by CrossFit Games Winner, Jason Khalipa, and the premise of the book is promising. He encourages you to live life with the AMRAP mentality.

(If you’re not familiar with CrossFit terms, AMRAP means As Many Reps As Possible. It’s basically where you push yourself as hard as you can go.)

I enjoyed some of the personal stories and inspirational tidbits he shared, but I felt like the book was sort of all over the place, not well edited, and it was hard to follow because it kept jumping from one part of his story to another and then back again.

In addition, I struggled with figuring out what he was inferring when he encouraged people to live with the AMRAP mentality. How does this actually look in real-life? He talks about being fully present when you are working on, or working on your business, or hanging out with your family, but I would have loved for him to unpack that a lot more.

Clearly, most people disagreed with me on this because it has 72 reviews and every single one of them is 5 star! So yeah, you might completely disagree with me on this one!

Verdict: 2 stars

Before We Were Yours

5. Before We Were Yours

This was — by far — the best book I finished in April! Many of you told me you thought I should read it as soon as possible and you were so right.

It’s the tragic and true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals and how they played out in the lives of the children who actually went through this horrific experience.

Truth be told, I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals before listening to this book — and I live in Tennessee! I have asked multiple people who live here and they haven’t heard of it either.

It’s heart-wrenching and horrible and I think a powerful reminder of how money can cause people to make terrible decisions that can hurt people in devastating ways.

The book is well-written and engaging and appears to be very well-researched historical fiction. It is also the beautiful story of sibling love and how trauma and devastation doesn’t have to define your future.

Note: There are a lot of situations in the book when it comes to abuse that could be very triggering to people, depending upon your life experience and trauma. The book doesn’t give nitty-gritty details, but it’s enough that it could be very triggering.

Verdict: 4 stars

What have you been reading recently? Any books you think I really need to read soon? I’d love to know!

10 Books I Read in March

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

In 2019, I’m sharing the books I read each month and what my honest thoughts were on those books. If you love books, you don’t want to miss this post! (You can see all of my book reviews for this year here.)

My Goal of 80 Books Read in 2019

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own. (You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress!

I’m excited that I made more progress on my reading goals this past month, thanks to being able to check out so many great audiobooks for free through the Libby app.

And yes, I know that some people might consider listening to an audiobook as “cheating” a little. Jesse is constantly teasing me about this. But hey, I think that any way you get a book finished is a good thing and I’m going to count it and celebrate it!

a girl at Barnes & Noble

10 Books I Finished in March

I finished 10 books in March — yay! Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books:

A photo of A Gentleman in Moscow

1. A Gentleman in Moscow

I’ll be honest, this book was nothing like I expected it to be. And I almost quit listening to it after a few chapters because it was just so slow to develop and I was struggling to follow where the story was leading.

However, because it was highly recommended to me and because I have had it on my To Read list for so long, I decided to keep listening. And I’m really glad that I ended up sticking with it.

It turned out to be so different than my expectations, but it was a beautiful story with a lot of richness and depth. The author’s style wasn’t my favorite and I think it would have been hard to stick with had I been reading it (it’s a l-o-n-g book), but there was something about it that just grew on me more and more as I read it.

Have you read it? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Verdict: 3 stars

A photo of The Middle Matters by Lisa Jo Baker

2. The Middle Matters

I read a pre-release copy of this book because Lisa-Jo asked me to write an endorsement for it. It’s a collection of essays she wrote on various aspects of living “in the middle” — those years you’re just in the middle of the mundane or the messy.

Here’s a little info on it from the Amazon description:

The middle is the place where our lives really live. This is the place where we have grown into the shapes of our souls even as we might have outgrown the shapes of our jeans.

The middle is the marrow. The glorious ordinary of your life that utterly exhausts you but that you might have finally started to understand in ways you didn’t at the beginning. Listen, I’m not asking you to seize the day here; I’m just asking you to actually see it. Even if just out of the corner of one eye. The middle is worth remembering while you are actually living it, because you won’t pass by this way again.

So it’s worth slowing down long enough on random afternoons to really look around at your life and your husband and the human beings you are raising together and let it sink in that you’ve grown up and that it’s good. You are living at the very center of what will be your story. Right now. Let’s stop long enough to read a few lines of these lives out loud. Because trust me when I tell you, sister, the middle is worth reading.

Verdict: 3 stars

A photo of Everybody, Always by Bob Goff

3. Everybody, Always

I got an email a recently from a woman who told me she has followed me online for a long time, but she’s been too scared to write in because she knows I’m a Christian and she’s afraid of what I might think of her since she’s so different than me. She felt I wouldn’t want to associate with her because of her choices, beliefs, and lifestyle.

My heart broke when I read her words. And it made me really stop and examine my heart. Am I oozing with Jesus’ love — for ALL people?

Or am I just loving those people who are most like me, who have the same beliefs or viewpoints, or who I most relate to?

If I’m truly following Jesus, I’m not just going to be hanging out with people who are like me.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time with those who are on the fringes, those who are often overlooked, and those who are very different than me.

If I say I’m following Jesus, but I’m unwilling to love those who are different than me, those who have hurt me, and those who are hard to love, I’m not truly following Jesus.

Thanks to Bob Goff for how he inspired me through his book Love Everybody, Always. While I don’t agree with all of his theology, I do 100% agree with his heart for challenging us to love others much more wholeheartedly!

My favorite quote: “If following Jesus doesn’t lead you to the poor, the lonely, and the isolated, you’re not following Jesus.”

Verdict: 4 stars

a photo A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff

4. A Love Letter Life

As I talk about on my recent podcast episode with Audrey and Jeremy Roloff, I actually didn’t know who they were until their publicist reached out to me a few months ago and asked if she could send me their brand-new book, A Love Letter Life.

I Googled their names (yes, I did!) and discovered that they are well known for being on the hit TV show Little People, Big World (which follows Jeremy’s family — and which he grew up being part of).

To be honest, I said their publicist could send me their book, A Love Letter Life, but I didn’t expect all that much from it and wasn’t planning to ask them to be on my show. (I’m super picky about who I will invite on the show and only invite people whose work/life has impacted me in a deep way.)

But then, the publicist sent the book, I read it, and I truly found it very valuable. In addition, I just loved their beautiful love story, their honesty, and how well-written the book was (in fact, I wondered if they had a ghost writer for it, but Audrey told me when she was at our house that they didn’t!)

You can listen to the podcast episode I did with Audrey and Jeremy here.

Verdict: 4 stars

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson

5. Chase the Lion

You all know I’m a big Mark Batterson fan! I have loved and been inspired by so many of his books and this book was no different!

Chase the Lion is a sort of sequel to In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day — which was a book I loved. (You can read my review of In a Pit here.)

Like all of Mark’s other books, this book is brimming with inspiration and quotable statements (Mark is a master wordsmith!) I also love how he weaves so many facts and interesting tidbits and stories all throughout his books.

My only reason for not giving this book 5 stars was that I felt like some of it was pretty repetitive to what I remember In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day being. In fact, until he said otherwise in the book, I thought maybe he had just re-titled the book since the material seemed so similar.

In addition, some people could take his message to mean we need to push so hard that we completely burn ourselves out to the point of exhaustion. Mark has a crazy zest for life and, what feels like, unlimited energy. So some people could feel like they need to be doing way more than they should be doing by reading this book.

Just remember to keep in mind that we all have different capacities and callings and it’s okay to move at a slower pace so long as we are pursuing our own calling. But still, I feel like there’s so much valuable inspiration in this book and I definitely recommend it!

Verdict: 4 stars

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

I read this book a number of years ago and loved it. Then, not too long ago, I watched the Netflix movie they did based upon the book.

Well, after watching the movie and enjoying it, I realized I couldn’t remember enough about the book to compare the movie and the book. So, in an uncharacteristic move, I decided to read the book again.

Only this time, I listened to it (thanks to getting the audiobook for free from the Libby app). I loved that the audiobook is narrated by multiple voices. It’s so well done.

And I ultimately decided that the book is great, the movie is good, and the audiobook is very well done. So I highly recommend all three.

By the way, this novel is written entirely in the form of letters and telegrams. Considering that this book and Dear Mr. Knightley are two of my top favorite books and both are written in letter form, apparently I’m a big fan of that style of writing! (Do you know of other books written in a similar fashion? If so, I’d love to read them to see if I enjoy them as much!)

Verdict: 5 stars

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

7. How to Walk Away

I’m still not sure what I think of this novel. On the one hand, I felt like it held a lot of richness. On the other hand, it felt like there was a lot of fluff.

It’s the story of a woman who gets badly injured in a small airplane crash and who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair as a result. I felt that there was a lot of value in getting a peek at what it would be like to go through such a horrific experience.

I love stories that help you have a little window into what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes… or, in the case of this book, to lose your ability to walk at all.

But on the other hand, it wasn’t from a Christian perspective and it felt like it was missing so much because of this.

However, I felt like the story was well written and believable in most regards (there were a few parts that were just a little too fictionalized to feel true) and I enjoyed it overall.

(Note: This is some language and a few sections that were more PG-13.)

Verdict: 4 stars

How Successful People Think by John Maxwell

8. How Successful People Think

I listened to this short book in less than two days. It has a lot of great nuggets of truth in it and many sections that made me stop and think. (Which was probably a good thing, right, since it’s a book about how successful people think? ;))

It helped me to process through a few situations in life and gave me some good perspective for those. It also encouraged me as a leader that I am approaching many areas of my life with thoughtfulness and intention.

One of my biggest takeaways was to prioritize thinking and spaces in our schedule for thinking. In fact, as a result of reading the book, I blocked off a part of one day each week as my “Thinking Time.”

This Thinking Time is time for me to just be quiet and think through certain areas of my life where I don’t have clarity. It is also time for me to pray, process, and write down thoughts and ideas.

I am already seeing a lot of benefit to this practice and am excited to watch how it impacts the rest of my year!

Verdict: 4 stars

If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey

9. If You Only Knew

This book was a short read written by well known podcaster, Jamie Ivey. It’s her honest journey of letting go of shame and walking into freedom.

I found some parts so thought-provoking and well-written. Other sections felt like they sort of dragged on and were repetitive. She may have purposefully repeated herself in order to drive the message home? I’m not sure, but I personally thought that it could have been edited down more than it was.

In addition, I felt like she took a long time to get into her story and it made me wonder if she was concerned she would get backlash for choices she’s made and struggles she’s had. Honestly, because of how she set it up, I was expecting her story to be much, much worse and was kind of like, “Oh! That’s all she did?!” after she shared.

(I’m kind of embarrassed to even write that that was my thought process, but it’s true! And hey, I’m all about keeping it real and honest around here. So there ya go!)

Verdict: 3 stars

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

10. Option B

Many of you are probably familiar with Sheryl Sandberg. She’s the COO of Facebook and the widely known author of Lean In. This book chronicles her personal journey with losing her husband suddenly and the steps she took after his death to survive and process such an unexpected and heart-wrenching tragedy.

While personally, I’m not sure that it’s a book to give to someone who has experienced such a great loss (I think the honesty she writes with could be incredibly painful to someone who is grieving deeply), I found her authenticity refreshing and insightful. Her words will help me better know how to walk with someone well who is grieving and how to be more mindful of how I talk to them and interact with them.

There is a little language in the book. I also felt like a little bit of her political agenda spilled through. There is nothing wrong with having or sharing a political agenda, but I personally felt like it detracted a little from the book.

Verdict: 4 stars

What have you been reading recently? Any books you think I really need to read soon? I’d love to know!

4 Books I Finished in February

Every month this year, I’m sharing what books I finished and what my honest thoughts were on those books. If you love books, you don’t want to miss this post! (You can see all of my book reviews for this year here.)

girl holding a stack of books I've finished

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own. (You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress!

(It’s also motivating to realize I’m currently 5 books behind schedule when it comes to my 80 books goal. Oh well! I’m hopeful I’ll make that up come summer!)

I finished 4 books in February. Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books:

A photo of Brush of Wings, a book I finished in February

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

#1: Brush of Wings

I listened to the first two books in this series last month (Angels Walking and Chasing Sunsets). So of course, I had to listen to the third book this month! (I was able to get it for free from the Libby app.)

This is a fictionalized series of how angels are walking amongst us and helping to protect us on a daily basis (based upon verses like Psalm 91:11 and Hebrews 13:2).

I disagreed with some of the theological implications and don’t know that I agree with some of the ways that she presented angels as humans. However, I found it so good to remember that there are spiritual forces — both good and evil — around us at all times and that there is power in the name of Jesus.

I also found it encouraging to be reminded how God sometimes uses really hard things in our life to turn into some of the most beautiful things. It’s easy to forget this.

The audiobooks are narrated by two different voice actors (depending upon who was narrating each chapter in the books) and I thought they were well done.

That said, I felt like the third book was slower than the first two. It seemed to drag on and be really predictable. In fact, it almost felt like she was supposed to write a third book so she had to include quite a bit of filler content in it just to make it long enough.

My verdict: 2 stars

A photo of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, a book I finished in February

#2: Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a blog reader. And then I put it on my list of 40 books I plan to read — and so many of you commented and said I MUST read it right away so I bumped it to the top of the list.

The subtitle for the book is How Less Than Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great Kids. I love that… because it feels like it’s actually doable and not like a book that is going to make me feel like I’m just not measuring up as a mom.

Jami’s humor and candidness in this book was a breathe of fresh air to me. Her writing is so down-to-earth, so raw, and so real. She makes you feel less alone, but she also does such a good job of pointing you to Jesus and encouraging you to lean in and love your kids — even when it’s really hard.

If you are looking for a parenting book that isn’t about formulas or perfection and doesn’t make you feel like you need to overhaul your schedule and life and chore charts in order to be a better mom, definitely check out Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors.

This book reads more like a memoir, but it’s packed with powerful truths, too.

(By the way, I loved this book so I asked Jami to be a guest on next week’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show! Stay tuned for that!)

My verdict: 5 stars

Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra, a book I finished in February

#3: Etched in Sand

My sister recommended that I read this book… and she basically never fails me with her book recommendations! This book is the true story of five siblings who survived a pretty horrific childhood of abuse.

It is sad and honest and has a lot of crass language in it, but I thought it was a really insightful look into the foster care system from the perspective of a child. It displays so clearly that there are no easy solutions or quick fixes and that we who haven’t experienced what these kids have experienced truly have no idea what it would be like to walk in their shoes.

My heart hurt so much for the heavy weight of guilt that the author carried around because of feeling like she didn’t protect her younger sister — even though she tried so hard to do so and took many blows and beatings from her abusive mother in order to protect her siblings.

This is a sad and haunting story and it might be too difficult for some to read. I’m grateful to have read it because it gave me fresh eyes of compassion for others who are hurting and for friends who have experienced abuse and abandonment in their childhood and how much it likely has wounded them emotionally.

My verdict: 4 stars

Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford, a book I finished in February

#4: Only Love Today

I had planned to read this book, but it became available on the Libby app, so I downloaded it and listened to it. I love Rachel’s encouragement to make the most of everyday moments, to savor life, and to slow down and really invest our time and energy into people.

One part of the book that will stick with me for a long time was when she talked about the power of six seconds. How we all have six seconds that we can stop and say, “I love you” or, “I’m sorry.”

To really look into someone’s eyes and listen to them. To smile. To hold a door open.

We might not have hours to devote every day, but we can all take six seconds to make a difference in someone else’s life.

While I appreciated so many aspects of the book, I did feel like it was pretty repetitive and there was a bit of a strong undertone of self-love that could easily turn into selfishness. I’m not saying that is what the author was encouraging; I’m just saying it could be interpreted in an unhealthy way.

As a Christian, I see that one of my primary reasons for existing is to glorify the Lord and to love others well because I am so loved by God. I read the book and the parts that seemed a little heavy on the self-love through this lens.

My verdict: 3 stars

Books I Started But Didn’t Finish

I started both Start With Why & Chase the Lion in February but didn’t finish them. Not because they weren’t really good, but because I was listening to them on the Libby app and I had to “return” them before I was finished listening. I hope to re-check them out again in the next few months and finish them.

Bible Reading Progress

I started January 1, 2019 with my commitment this year to begin every day with 30 minutes of time in God’s Word. I’m reading through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible plans at the beginning of each book of the Bible.

So far, I’ve finished all of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

What did you read in February? Are there any books you really think I should read in 2019?

How I Did on My 2019 Goals in February

Did you set goals for 2019? Here’s an update on how I did on my 2019 goals in February.

It’s March 3, 2019. And it’s time to check in on our goals! How are you doing on the goals you set for 2019?

I spent some time today reviewing February and reflecting on the blessings of the past month and the lessons I learned. I also looked at my goals and how I was doing in each area. (If you missed My Goals for 2019 post, read it here.)

In order to keep myself accountable (and because I know some of you really enjoy these posts) I’m sharing a goals update post at the beginning of each month. I hope that this will not only motivate me to be focused and intentional this year, but I hope it might also inspire you in the goals you set for 2019.

So here’s my goals update for March 3, 2019:

Personal Goals

1. Read 40 books I already own. (I’m using GoodReads to track my reading this year!)

Update: I finished 4 books in February — 3 were books I already own and 1 was free from the Libby app. Look for a Book Update post in the next few days where I share more about my thoughts on the books I finished.

2. Slowly read through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible reading plans at the beginning of each chapter.

Update: I finished Mark and Luke in February

3. Listen to 2 audiobooks per month. (I use the Libby app to get these for free.)

Update: I listened 4 audiobooks in February, but I only finished two — because I ran out of time to finish two of them before I had to “return” them to the library.

4. Complete all of the Organize in 5 Diary tasks to get our home more organized and set up better organizational systems. (Psst! Did you get yours? It’s just $9 right now.)

Update: This has been going so well and I’m happy to report that I have been 100% keeping up with this. YAY! (You can see two posts I did on some of my organizing projects in January and February: Cleaning Out the Cookbooks & Organizing My Purse & Bathroom.)

5. Stay offline for 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. (I share more about why I chose this goal here.)

Update: I didn’t do this perfectly, but I hit this about 80% in February and with everything that went on and some extra work projects, I’m celebrating how much

6. Leave my phone in the basement every night. (I talk more about what inspired me to make this goal here.)

Update: I did this most every night in February but 3 nights when I accidentally fell asleep before putting my phone downstairs and the days I was traveling!

7. Go to bed before 10:30 p.m. 5 days per week. (I’m using this little spreadsheet I made to track most of my personal goals)

Update: I didn’t do this perfectly, but I did a MUCH better job of going to bed earlier and I’ve been a lot more consistent in my bedtimes and wake up times and it has definitely made a difference!

Marriage Goal

8. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.

Update: We got a trip booked to Destin, FL at the end of April!! We’re renting an AirBNB with two other couples and are so excited about it! We also are looking at possibly doing one other weekend trip later in the year. We’ll see!

Motherhood Goal

9. One-on-one time with each child at least 3 times per week. (I am planning to dedicate 40 minutes per child after dinner each evening at least three nights per week to hang out and spend time with each child individually.)

Update: This has been going so well! And I’m thrilled to report that I hit this every week in February!

Family Goal

10. Take the kids to at least two continents and 4 states we haven’t traveled to. (We’re hoping to travel to Europe in the summer and South America at some other point during the year. I have travel alerts set up to track the best prices for flights and am hoping to find a great deal to snag in the next 4-6 months!)

Financial Goals

11. Pay cash to redo our room and renovate our bathroom (we have to pull out the shower and put in a new one because it was installed incorrectly and is leaking and ruining the floor/wall and we want to do a few renovations while we’re at it + we want to finally decorate our room — we left it really bare when we moved in and decided to wait to prioritize it in the budget).

Update: We had a few more contractors come over and give us estimates for our bathroom. We’re deciding which one to go with right now.

12. Pay cash to paint the walls in the main floor of our home.

13. Fully fund our Emergency Fund (This is a carry-over from 2018 and we are hoping to have this done in the next few months).

Business Goals

14. Redo/set up a much more intentional customer acquisition experience for all three of our email newsletters.

Update: We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes working on this and made some BIG progress in February already!

15. Finish launching the rest of our beginner Your Blogging University courses. (If you want to start a blog, be sure to check out my other site, Your Blogging Mentor.)

Update: I’m working on my next course, Monetize Your Blog, and it’s going to be a bigger/more comprehensive course than I’ve ever done but I made some good progress on it in February and am hoping to make some great progress on it in March!

16. Launch a Blog Coaching/Accountability Group membership. (I’ll be opening this up to a very limited number of people in January of 2019. Stay tuned!)

Update: We launched this to 100 people at the end of January and it is going SO WELL and I am just loving it already. We’ll be opening it up to more people in a few months!

How are YOU doing on your goals for 2019? I’d love to hear about your successes and struggles. Tell us in the comments!

The 5 Books I Finished in January

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own.

(You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

Some of you have told me you think I shouldn’t set book goals and I should just enjoy a book for a book’s sake. Here’s the thing: I actually find book goals fun and motivating. And so long as I’m really enjoying the books in the process, I’m going for it.

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading.

Here are the 5 books I finished in January and my honest thoughts:

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

#1 and #2: Angels Walking & Chasing Sunsets

I listened to both of these on the Libby app for free. They are the first two books in a fictionalized series of how angels are walking amongst us and helping to protect us on a daily basis (based upon verses like Psalm 91:11 and Hebrews 13:2).

While I disagreed with some of the theological implications and don’t know that I agree with some of the ways that she presented angels as humans, I found it so good to remember that there are spiritual forces — both good and evil — around us at all times and that there is power in the name of Jesus.

I also found it encouraging to be reminded how God sometimes uses really hard things in our life to turn into some of the most beautiful things. It’s easy to forget this.

The audiobook is narrated by two different voice actors (depending upon who was narrating each chapter in the books) and I thought it was well done and engaging.

My verdict: 3 stars

#3: My Morning Routine

This book is a collection of interviews about the morning routines of a very varied group of people — authors, artists, business owners, and so many others. Some are high profile people. Some are people you’ve never heard of.

But I found it inspiring to read about how so many different people start their mornings with intention. There were many practical ideas and takeaways… and it was also just a great refresher on how to start your mornings well and how the things you do first in the morning impact your entire day.

I will say that there was some repetition in how many people started their mornings and there were also some vastly differing viewpoints on many topics (such as beginning the day with exercise or not, using an alarm clock or not, what you should eat first thing in the morning or whether you should skip breakfast altogether).

Note: this book is not written at all from a Christian standpoint and it profiles a wide variety of people and you will likely not agree with the beliefs or practices of some of the people featured if you are a Christian.

My verdict: 3 stars

#4: Eat Cake, Be Brave

I listened to this book on the Libby app for free and I loved hearing this in her voice. I felt like it made the book come alive and seem so much more authentic.

Melissa has gone through so much in her life from weight struggles, to infertility, to infidelity, to losing a child, to rejection. And almost all women will be able to relate in some way to her story and her bravery will inspired you.

I found myself want to jump up and down and yell “preach it” as I was listening… and I’m not even a very charismatic sort of person. 😉 And I loved the book so much that I ended up buying a copy from Amazon after I finished listening to it since I wanted to have it in my library so I could re-read parts of it and loan it out to others.

My verdict: 5 stars

#5: Deep Work

This book is actually one I had planned to read in 2018, but I’m really glad I saved it for the beginning of 2019 because it was the perfect book to kick off the year.

Deep Work is a little more scholarly than most books I read, but I’m so happy I stuck with it because it really challenged me to think of how I’m approaching life and work and whether I’m investing time every day in what the author refers to as “deep work” — that kind of work that is meaningful and really makes a difference.

The author encourages you to have periods every day where you are completely offline and not distracted by all of the hustle and bustle of life to allow for this “deep work”.

One of my hopes for 2019 was to do a better job of compartmentalizing my work and family life so that they are better separated and I can be fully present and I loved many of the thoughts and strategies presented in this book to help make that a reality. This book provided practical suggestions and helpful ideas in this regard and inspired me to continue to prioritize this compartmentalization.

If you struggle to focus or get things done, if you wish you could be more structured in your day, or you’d like to look back on your week and guarantee that you devoted time to work that matters, I’d definitely recommend reading Deep Work.

My verdict: 5 stars

Book I Started But Didn’t Finish

Beartown. I tried. I really tried to get into this book since I loved A Man Called Ove. But eight chapters in, I just couldn’t deal with the crass language of the teenagers, so I gave up on it.

Bible Reading Progress

I started January 1, 2019 with my commitment this year to begin every day with 30 minutes of time in God’s Word. I’m reading through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible plans at the beginning of each book of the Bible.

I finished all of Matthew and read half of Mark in January.

Speaking of books, I’m giving away this stack of books over on Instagram. Go enter to win here.

What did you read in January? Are there any books you really think I should read in 2019?

40 Books I Plan to Read in 2019

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

I plan to read these 40 books from my bookshelf in 2019!! What's on your list?

One of my goals for 2019 was to read 40 books I already own. I finally had a chance to go through our bookshelves today and pick the 40 books I want to read.

For those who are interested, here are the books I chose (please note: I have not read these books, so by sharing them here, I am not endorsing or recommending them):

  1. Secret Daughter
  2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  3. The Choosing
  4. Paris Letters
  5. Becoming Mrs. Lewis
  6. How to Walk Away
  7. A Gentlemen in Moscow
  8. Before We Were Yours
  9. Beneath a Scarlet Sky
  10. The Austen Escape
  11. Come Matter Here
  12. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way
  13. Bearing Hope
  14. A Severe Mercy
  15. In the Secret Service
  16. Brave Love
  17. The Wondering Years
  18. Etched in Sand
  19. Embrace the Suck
  20. As Many Reps as Possible
  21. Forgiving God
  22. Daring to Hope
  23. Thirst
  24. Off the Clock
  25. Slow
  26. Everybody Always
  27. Begin Again
  28. The Healing Compass
  29. Book Girl
  30. So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  31. Dare to Lead
  32. Life on the Vine
  33. Preach to Yourself
  34. The Ministry of Ordinary Places
  35. Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors
  36. Parenting
  37. The Path Between Us
  38. Fierce Marriage
  39. Whisper
  40. Only Love Today
  41. When People Are Big and God is Small (whoops! I guess I actually picked out 41! I guess the last one is a bonus!)

By the way, I’m tracking the books I read this year on GoodReads and I’ll be doing a monthly update on what I read and a little review of each book!

Have you read any of these books? Which one(s) should I read first?