Friday, January 24, 2020

Holy! | Giveaway Done, but Wait... Do you Want More?

Drum roll please!

And the winner is....

Marianna Ballard!!!!

Congratulations to Marianna. She has won a copy of Everywhere Holy by Kara Lawler. I hope you enjoy the book Marianna and that it brings you some inspiration and a measure of peace. We could all use the reminder to slow down and see the beauty and grace around us a little more often. Kara has a way of helping you look for it. Enjoy!

Future Giveaways?

Did you get a chance to enter the contest? Would you like more chances to win more books in the future? Let me know, as I often have publishers and publicists willing to contribute giveaway copies of books to my readers. Let me know what books appeal to you and I will keep my eyes open for them.

Have a great weekend Friends!

Monday, January 20, 2020

20 Books to Read in 2020

20 Books to Read in 2020

Earlier this month I came across a blog where the author listed 20 books she planned on reading in 2020. What a great idea, I thought. I can do that too!

I usually read upwards of 45 books, so choosing twenty shouldn't be too hard. Of course it has taken me a while to get around to compiling that list, but I finally have a few titles selected. There is no guarantee that I will read or complete all of these books, and a pretty good chance that I will pick up several more novels over the course of the year, but this seems like a pretty decent place to start. Some of these are classics, some are brand new books just released, and others are books that friends have lent me. All of them are worthy of a spot on my bedside table though.

What are you planning on reading this year? Do you have any other suggestions for me?

A collection of books on my 2020 TBR pile

New Releases by Authors I Like

  1. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern - I am already on my way with this one. Erin Morgenstern stole my heart with her first book The Night Circus. If her prose is anything like in her debut novel, I am in for a treat!
  2. The Testament by Margaret Atwood - The queen of Canlit not only has a new book out, but it is the long awaited sequel to wildly popular The Handmaid's Tale. And so far, people are raving about it. Enough said.
  3. The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs - This is the 5th book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Series and definitely on my TBR list. I loved all the other fast paced YA novels and can't wait to get my hands on this one too.
  4. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak - When I come across an author that leaves an impression and see a new book by them, they often end up on my TBR list. Zusak wrote The Book Thief, which was also turned into a great movie. I hope this book is half as good as that.
  5. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes - I can't help but like Jojo Moyes. She wrote Me Before You and several subsequent books in the series and they tugged on my heartstrings. A little romance and life changing pauses every once in a while are a good thing too.  

Book Club Picks

  1. Educated by Tara Westover - Another book club selection, so I will be reading this one later this spring. I have heard great things about it this memoir, so I look forward to it.
  2. The Overstory by Richard Powers - Not only is it a book club pick this year, but a good friend of mine highly recommended this book. Plus, it is about trees. Who doesn't love trees!
  3. Even Weirder Than Before by Suzie Taylor - I am excited by this book, as not only will we be reading it in book club, but the author plans to Skype in when we meet to discuss her book. That always makes for an exciting meeting and adds depth to the book discussed.
  4. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline - I have actually read this book before, but am quiet happy to revisit this excellent book again with my book club this spring. Thumbs up for anyone considering this one.

Recommended Titles

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - I know this isn't a new book, but it has great ratings and was at the top of a tonne of TBR lists a few years ago. Plus, my daughter has a copy of it, so we can swap notes on it once I'm done.
  2. The Library Book by Susan Orlean - This book is based on the devastating fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 where hundreds of thousands of books burned to dust. It is also a deeper look into libraries as essential institutions and sounds like a fantastic read (especially for book lovers out there).
  3. Lion by Saroo Brierley - A friend lent this book to me a while ago, so I have to push this closer to the top of the pile in the next little while. Based on the true story of a five-year-old boy who got separated from his family in India and managed to find them 25 years later sounds astounding.
  4. The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff - This one was a Christmas present, so gets a spot on the list too. Set in World War II, and a New York Times bestseller, I suspect I will breeze through this novel in no time. 


  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - Full disclosure, this book has been on my bedside table for several months already, but I do pick it up and read it on occasion. It is a classic and for all accounts, should be read. But I suspect it will still be sitting on my bedside table at the end of the year still. Hopefully many more pages in by then though.
  2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - Here's another book that many people have raved over, but I have never read. It is another thick one that might take a while to get through, but if the reviews have any merit, it should be a page-turner.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald - I read this classic years ago, but figure this classic set in the roaring twenties is worth a revisit since we have re-entered the twenties all over again. How different does the world look 100 years on?
  4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon - Another book lent to me by a friend. This one was also a Pulitzer prize winner, so definitely needs to read sometime soon.


  1. Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné - A few other books will have to wait their turn, as Real Life just arrived, but has inched its way to the top of my reading list. I will share a little secret, but don't tell. I will be part of a book blog tour for this one later this winter, so need to get reading on it soon.
  2. Roxy by Esther Gerritsen - Grief with a twist. I can't resist. Plus, this book in translation is part of this year's Boekenweek tour, so on to the TBR pile for me. 
  3. The Darkness that Divides Us by Renate Dorrestein - Another Boekenweek title worth reading. It has rave reviews, but we shall see what I think. You will hear tell this spring!
I have to admit there are more books on my book shelf waiting to be read, but these titles inch them out for one reason or another. There is always room for more books though!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Everywhere Holy: Review & GIVEAWAY!

Everywhere Holy by Kara Lawler, © 2019, Thomas Nelson

Do you ever stop and wonder who you are, where you are going, and how you got here in the first place? Maybe question how life got away from you or wonder where it all turned in the direction you are headed now? More importantly, have you asked yourself how you can get your feet back on the ground again?

Kara Lawler has.

LawlerKKara is the author of Everywhere Holy. She is also a wife, mother, teacher, daughter, and friend, but sometimes she struggles with anxiety and depression, and feels like she has lost her path. In the writing of this book, she has sought to recognize the good in her life and signs that prove to her that God is watching out for her. For her, seeing cows in a field, dancing in the rain, collecting eggs from her chickens, and truly listening to her children are examples of being present. More than present though. These are moments, when recognized, that are holy, and they are everywhere when you look for them and recognize them.

Giveaway Time!

Do you struggle with self worth? Have you wondered and wandered lost on your path? Time to stop. Breathe. Look around and see the miracles. Whether that is a hug from your child, a memory from your youth, a kind word from a stranger, or the sharing of a moment with someone. They might not seem like much, but when we look and start to add them up, they can change the way you look at life.

Do you need a hand with that? How would the opportunity to read Everywhere Holy yourself sound? Pretty sweet, right! It is a great book to start the year off with if you are dreaming of a new year, new you.

I am hosting a giveaway of Kara Lawler's new book Everywhere Holy. One lucky reader will win a copy of her book. All you have to do is share a moment when you recognized you were lost, but discovered ways to turn that moment around. Did you struggle to conceive, so instead adopted a child? Maybe you hated your job, and took the plunge to start a new career? Or are you at a loss with raising teenagers, so have turned to friends for advice or help?

Enter now! Contest ends January 24, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Marking a New Year (with Sea Glass)

Pure Sea Glass 2020 Calendar

A New Year is upon us. Time for new hopes, new dreams, and new calendars to mark your resolutions on. I was lucky enough to receive the Pure Sea Glass 2020 Calendar from Schiffer Publishing and have gladly hung it up for inspiration where I can see it first thing in the morning (at eye level to where the coffee maker lives—perfect spot).

Pure Sea Glass 2020 Calendar

What does 2020 look like from the near side of the year? If the pretty cobalt and cornflower blue sea glass images serve as inspiration for January, then do I look forward to a year of infinite possibilities of blue?

Far more cobalt-blue bottles were produced than cornflower-blue vessels, making the latter twice as hard to find. ~ Richard LaMotte

The sea molds whatever is thrown into it, just as life is molded by whatever waves crash into us. Perhaps we need to look harder to see the beauty created by those experiences, just as so many of us are drawn to the colourful shards of smoothed glass that wash up on beaches all over the world. Look beyond the colours to see how the experiences smooth sharp edges. We might start the same or similar colours, but it is the experiences that leave their marks on us and make us all unique and beautiful.
Color usually is the most significant emotional factor to excite the sea glass enthusiast.  ~ Richard LaMotte  

While blues rule the winter months, with their icy shades, things start to warm up with the arrival of March. I can't help but thinking of maple syrup when I see these pretty pieces of sea glass. Perhaps as winter wanes, we should sweeten the pot and embrace the warmth that promises to be on the way.
A very limited amount of red glass has been mass-produced in the last 50 years, so one can make assumptions about its age.    ~ Richard LaMotte
By May, a trip to the beach might not seem like such a bad idea again. Time to search for some sea glass of your own! I have found plenty of pieces at local nearby beaches at Port Stanley, Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich, and Sauble Beach. Being surrounded by the Great Lakes might make for wilder weather sometimes, but doesn't that make for more unique sea glass to be found? My eyes constantly search out for little pieces of colourful glass found along the shores of wherever I go.
The beach lures us to witness its infinite energy, constant motion, and change. We listen to its music for advice and solace. Each day is different. ~ Robert LaMotte
By July, we have hit the mid-point of the year, the weather is hot, and my birthday arrives! I love the summer months, for the long hot days and warm nights that invite as much time spent outside as possible. There are festivals to attend, campfires to spark, and lakes to cool off in just because. It has always been a time for renewal for me and reconnecting with my family. We shed the busy months, and slow down to be part of the natural world once more. Lots more time to unearth more unique sea glass at any number of beaches across southwestern Ontario and often further afield.
Tales of healing through collecting sea glass are just part of the story. ~ Richard LaMotte

After renewal comes the time to embrace our busy lives once more. The calendar gets marked with activities galore, but we still try to get outside to enjoy as much colour as we can. Leaves lose their greens in favour of yellows, reds, and oranges, in preparation for hibernation. Not without a vibrant goodbye though!

Reds, yellows, and oranges conjure up sunlight and fire, while the blues and blue greens evoke snow and ice, sea, sky, and moonlight.   ~ Anonymous
As the year winds to a close, it always seems miraculous how the time has flown. In between the holiday rush, I take time to reflect on where I've come throughout the year; the heartache, loss, success, failures, love, and joys along the way. It really is amazing how fast time flies and how all those moments add up to change who you were from the beginning of the year.

It is not merely the time in the water that creates great sea glass. Much of it remains embedded in the sand and shifts from its resting place several times. ~ Richard LaMotte

What I think I like most about this calendar though is the fact that sea glass is often hard to find, but brings so much joy to you when you do find it. The search forces you to slow down, be more mindful and observant of life around you, and offers the reminder to spend more time by the water! It changes you, but helps to smooth your edges and bring out your shine and beauty. How can you not smile at that? 

The Pure Sea Glass calendar is a delightful compilation of images of sea glass photographed by Tommy Allen, featuring quotes by Richard LaMotte. I received the calendar from Schiffer Publishing in exchange for a review, but had to make it my own. A little nod to the calendar, images, and quotes, with a bit more reflection on my part to keep it real and me. But I love beach glass and the calendar speaks to me. It truly does put a smile on my face when I look at it every morning and hopefully will remind me to be more present in my daily life, looking for the colours and seeing the beauty in how life molds us. 


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