Progress in the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge

By now you’ve heard that Anne is doing a reading challenge, and who doesn’t want to join someone like her in something so fun? Probably just people who don’t like to read. I don’t trust those people.

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I shared on Instagram a draft of what I was thinking of reading for each category, and I’m here today to set it in stone. And by that I mean I will do really whatever I want at my own discretion because it’s my life. Stop telling me what to do.

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Without further tapping:

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A Book I’ve Been Meaning to Read

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The Expats: I’m not quite sure where I heard of this book, but the idea of a new stay-at-home-mom moving to a small European country and having to confront the various secrets lives of herself and those around her – well, that just sounded interesting and exciting.

Update: And it was. Definitely some small, graphic parts, but nothing this wimp couldn’t handle. Even though I’ve finished this, I find myself thinking, “Ooh, I can’t wait until bedtime so I can pick it back up again.” And then I remember I finished it, and a little wave of disappointment washes over me.

A Book Published This Year

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Formerly Fingerman: This is one of those categories subject to change. It is only April after all. But, this book fits my requirements for what seems to be an enjoyable book: a fresh plot line that isn’t about coming of age, sisters becoming friends, children dying/being hurt, or illness. I feel like I have read all of those stories over and over.

Update: So, I changed my mind on this one and decided to read Almost Famous Women. I read about half of it and returned it. Not my kind of book. It’s a book of short stories about real women who have brushes with fame but their stories remain untold. So, the author decided to fill in the blanks with her own rendition of what their lives may have been like – historical fiction, if you will. Sounds fun, right? Each story left me sad and empty much like the lives of each story’s subject. Not only were the stories hopeless and often lewd, they were also written in such a fashion that grasped at poetic and came up sounding like an art student was trying too hard. Gosh, can you tell I didn’t like this one?

A Book in a Genre I Don’t Typically Read

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Hands Free Mama: I tend to shy away from self-improvement type books. I find them to be overwhelming, and often I finish feeling bad about myself – thinking I should be more. But, I challenged myself to read this one since it is so light and easy.

Update: I went into it remembering to be kind to myself, and I came out of it with an overall desire to spend more time enjoying the quiet moments with my family. Not a bad outcome. There were also a lot of instances where I had to disagree with the author, but often they were differences in opinion over specific situations and not overarching ideas. So, keep in mind that she is writing about her journey, and take her wisdom and apply it to your life as you see fit.

A Book from My Childhood

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Anne of Green Gables: I’ve never actually read this before. I have tried many times and been sidetracked by something newer and flashier. So, I suppose this is not really one from MY childhood. But, I am not a person to reread books – never have, never will be. So, I decided to make this the year I read it. More than likely I will read this chapter by chapter with Ellen at night – after we finish The Children of Noisy Village.

Update: Ok, this book was adorable. I am actually upset that I was never introduced to it when I was younger. I’m sure I would have loved it. Charming. I’ve tried reading a few books lately that I’ve surprisingly never read before (P&P, Lord of the Flies), but this was the most pleasant experience of them all!

A Book My Mom Loves

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The Secret Life of Bees: My mom and I couldn’t have more different taste in books (or anything else for that matter). So, this is a hard one for me. Her favorite books include this one, The Kite Runner, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Red Tent. Honestly, I have specifically avoided all of these books even knowing full well that they are extremely popular and well-received. I thought about picking one of my dad’s favorites, but I’ve read all of those already. Sorry, mom.

A Book Originally Written in Another Language

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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared: Mandi from Life Your Way has this book in this category. This was the hardest for me to pick because it’s not normally a factor I pay attention to. I know of some heavy classics that fit, but that’s not my style. This one seems quirky enough to work.

A Book “Everyone” Has Read but Me

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The Rosie Project: You’ve probably heard of this because everyone has read it. I’m looking forward to it, and I might just be delving into this one next. A did hear that the sequel left much to be desired, so I imagine I will stop with this first book.

Update: This was the perfect book to read when I found myself drained. I had just finished a few books that were on the heavier side, and I was feeling unmotivated to pick up a new book. This was light and fairly predictable, but the characters are so wonderful that you are pulled all the way through. Think Sheldon Cooper and When Harry Met Sally.

A Book I Chose Because of the Cover

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: This got mixed reviews, but I have been looking for a mystery that isn’t gory or too slow moving. And, I liked the cover for some reason. Also, if I’m going to be really honest with you, I ONLY ever pick books based on the cover. It’s my M.O.

Update: I’m not sure why this got mixed reviews. After reading it and talking about it with people, this series seems to have a pretty steady cult following. I loved the mystery aspect of it without being overly gory or gratuitous. I actually found myself laughing in a few parts, and I was able to stay up late with it just to see what happens – and it didn’t even spook me to do so, baby that I am. And, having littles, I usually end up reading books that have a more contemporary language feel to them so I can plow through easily. The writing in this book definitely had literary merit, but I felt I was still able to read through it with kids underfoot.

A Book by a Favorite Author

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The Undomestic Goddess: You got me. I loved the The Shopaholic Series. I blew through it one summer in about a month. And, there is a new short story out in the series that I am itching to read. I’ve read others of Kinsella’s (as well as some of her Wickham books), and they are always the entertaining fluff I need when I am in a reading slump. I will probably save this one for summer.

A Book Recommended by Someone with Great Taste

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Unbroken: This is the last book left on Anne’s book rec list she made up just for me. Everything else she told me to read was knock-out-of-the-park wonderful, so I am imagining this one will be as well. It’s been getting a lot of buzz lately because of the movie. I was told that the book focuses more on human strength and resilience while the movie picks out the suffering and struggles (perhaps because that makes for better drama?).

A Book I Should Have Read in High School

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Lord of the Flies: This was never on any of the reading lists for my classes in high school. Again, I’ve read those and don’t really want to reread. But, I know this is a popular book in a lot of English classes – one that I never taught either (I used to be a high school English teacher). So, it will be brand new to me. Plus I have it sitting in the basement already.

A Book That’s Currently on the Bestseller List

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Station Eleven: Post apocalyptic, Great Lakes and Shakespeare? Sign me up. This again hits my marks for a readable book. Is it just me or do people get sick of reading books about a character coming of age, a terminal disease or a heartbreaking event?

Update: Turns out this one does hit on a lot of my triggers mentioned above. And actually pretty hard. I thought it would be a little less challenging in that department, but there are a lot of moments from the book that have stuck with me, haunted me even. But, despite some of the more heartbreaking moments, this was so well-written (and compelling enough) that I had to read to the end. Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world if a book makes you question things long after you’ve read it…

Are you doing the challenge? What’s on your list? If not, what are you reading anyway?

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Twitterature

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The Remedy for Love: Two adults find themselves in a survival situation during the snow storm of the century. One straight-laced. One free-spirit. #love #winter

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A quirky bookstore has a secret layer. Newest employee hunts down ancient answers and unlocks the secret using modern technology. #nerdy

The Boys in the Boat: Combo of human interest, sport, and history during 1936 #Olympics. Perfect #nonfiction book for fiction lovers. #rowing #ifyoulikedunbroken

What Alice Forgot: Typical amnesia story-lovely just the same. Women wakes up to life she doesn’t recognize. Must piece together and fix before it’s too late.

My True Love Gave To Me: 12 holiday stories focused on love. Christmas might be over, but winter is still here. Great to read one each night as a snack. #Christmas

The Expats: CIA agent turned SAHM moves family to Europe. Discovers intricate web of lies and deceit. Some graphic parts. #suspense #intelligent #lovedit

 

Tell me the best thing you’ve read lately, puhlease.
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Twitterature: What We’re Reading

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Falling for Your Madness: By @10minutewriter. Def. fits criteria for a book w/ a fresh plot line. A little bizarre, but interesting and easy enough to keep attention.

The Stupidest Angel: Not a fan. Thought it’d be a quirky Christmas story. Turns out it’s all zombies and serial killers. Not even in the cool Burton way. #nope

I Don’t Want to be a Hoo-er: A summary of @TheAnchoress’ best pieces. Thought-provoking but easy to read because it is broken into short essays. #catholic #politics

Teaching in Your Tiara: We’re still on the fence about homeschooling, and this book makes it seem possible for people like me. #honest #funny #logical #keepinitreal

Stardust: A friend’s fiance based his proposal on this book bc it is her fave. I had to read. Magical, fantasy, light, adventure. One of my new faves.

You Cannot Be Serious – and 32 Other Rules that Sustain a (Mostly) Balanced Mom: Meh. A bit funny & relatable, but humor seemed a bit forced. Light read (my MO). Used as a kickstarter to get back into the reading groove.

Dear Mr. Knightley: Liked this mucho. Didn’t see the end coming. A little disappointed in her choice, but didn’t ruin my read. #fostercare #chicago #journalism

Spice Up Your Marriage: @HallieLord’s fun way to date your hubs again. Easy to read in bits w actual action items to try.  #selfhelp #love #bowchicabowwow #catholic

Parnassus on Wheels: Quirky, bookish and light. Great book for those who love books. Story of a woman who leaves her quiet life to be a traveling bookseller.

The Search for Delicious: #YAlit Please read this. Charming. Boy travels country polling kingdom to find out what’s most delicious. #fantasy #adventure #published1969

 

Twitterature
What We’re Reading

Call Her Happy Summer Reads

Do I need to give you an introduction, or do you get it? …You get it. Good. Also, maybe you heard? Baby bird is the word.

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Non Fiction

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

From Grouchy To Great: Finding Joy In The Journey Of Motherhood

You Cannot Be Serious – and 32 Other Rules that Sustain a (Mostly) Balanced Mom

 

Fiction

Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide

Life in the Palace (The Palace Saga Book 1)

The Truth About The Sky

 

Modern Mrs. Darcy Picks for Moi

What Alice Forgot

Parnassus on Wheels

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Search for Delicious

 

Spiritual

The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home

Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World

The Fulfillment of All Desire

Trusting God with St. Therese

 

Are any of these on your list? Or better yet, are any of these on your Run Far Far Away From list? That would be helpful to know too. And, this post contains affiliate links.

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5 Things I Look for in a Book + a review

I’ll tell you what, this is a big deal. I don’t do this often. Mostly because who has time to sit down and honestly list out her favorite books (innoparticularorder)? Only a mom who uses and abuses Netflix, my friends. Uses and abuses.

So, while I’ve got Straw-ba-ba-ba-ba-berry on loop, let’s do this. To be one of my favorites, a book needs to fit the following very academic criteria:

  1. have a unique, fresh plot line that I haven’t come across a hundred times (hello, unlikely friendships)
  2. be written well enough that I don’t feel like I could have penned it (not hard, but still)
  3. plot-driven rather than descriptive prose (because I like my brows low)
  4. doesn’t make me depressed or anxious or a sobbing mess (all the children must LIVE!)
  5. easy enough to read with two kids underfoot (talk to me like I’m seven)

You’d be surprised (or not). It’s not easy finding books that fall into all of those categories. Many times I have to compromise. So terribly sad, right? And, because I am so picky, my favorite of all time list is short:

  • The Giver
  • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  • The Homeschool Experiment
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • Princess Academy
  • Pope Awesome and Other Stories
  • The Great Gatsby

And now I wanna adda anudder: Something Other Than God.

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“But, you haven’t finished reading it yet, Jenna!” How did you know that? Because I know Jen’s writing. I know her story. I’ve read enough. This book is where it’s at.

And, honestly, it’s perfect for Summer. Jen has a knack for hitting the heavy and making you nod your head so vigorously that you consider suing her for whiplash, but this book still maintains a level of readability that pulls you along into the wee hours of the morning just so you can finish.

Humor. Catechism. Hope. Reality. Inspiration. Other noun. Order it.

And, have you seen Jen’s video trailer for the book yet. I’m just sayin’ you should watch it. Maybe pay special attention to 1:17. Just sayin’.

 

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The Romantic Idea of the Bedtime Story

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I’ve always had this romantic idea of going to the library with my daughter, checking out a classic chapter book, and reading a chapter each night before bed. She’s two, so it’s not really time for that yet, but I decided to jump the gun and give it a whirl.

I got a read-aloud copy of Charlotte’s Web and told Ellen we would be reading it at bedtime. The first night was mostly fielding questions about why we couldn’t finish the book in one night, what chapters are, character names, etc. Things you don’t realize that need to be entered into a child’s schema.

She may not be grasping the entire plot or really understand everything that is going on from night to night, but in subsequent nights, she has remembered character names, asked plot questions, and asked to keep the book in bed with her so she could flip through the pages.

She even goes down easier when she has some snuggle time with her momma. And, after I head downstairs, I can hear her up there reading to her dolls until she just can’t hold her eyes open a second longer.

And all of that up there? That is the romance I am talking about. A girl and her love for a book. I guess I’m calling this a parenting win and never looking back.

So, you got to the bottom of this post and thought, “Wait, where is the punchline? Where did she fall flat on her face? Where is the joke? The backfire?” You can stop looking because it’s actually been a pretty sweet deal.

Ladies and gentlemAn (I am fairly certain there must only be one), this is actually working for us. So far, it has made bedtime more, well, enjoyable. I didn’t know I could put those words together, and I am not completely certain I should (are we all knocking on wood on my behalf?). But, we’re going to stick with it.

So, what’s the point of all of this? Why am I telling you this? I suppose it’s Monday, and I am reaching for something to write. Or perhaps there is some merit to getting ahead of ourselves and trying something that our kids aren’t supposed to be ready for. Maybe they will not get out of it what we might intend, but you might be pleasantly surprised at what does come of it.

 

That’s all. On with your day.

Oh, wait. Check out Fine Linen and Purple and The Annery (Do you care that I keep calling it that??) to win a necklace from my Etsy shop. xxoo

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Tell me your nights look like this + Giveaway!

You or your hubs or both get home from work around 5 or 6. Dinner needs to be put on the table. Toddlers need to be coaxed into tasting everything even if they don’t think they’ll like it. Dishes need to be cleaned up. Then, all of a sudden, it is 8pm and the bedtime routine begins.

I’m sorry, but where in there am I supposed to cultivate a happy family that is well-bonded and centered in Christ? WHERE??

Oh, I know. We do usually have about 10 minutes between dishes and brushing teeth. So, as long as I can fit it all in there, we should be good…

Or, how about this? You do have a little bit of time to spend together as a family, but you spend it together but separate. You’re too exhausted to come up with an enriching and fun activity that the whole family will enjoy because the baby slept a total of three hours last night, your husband had to wake up at 5 for work, and you dealt with more poop that day than an outhouse emporium. I get that.

"Play with usssssss!"

“Play with usssssss!”

The Solution

In steps Sarah Reinhard and her book Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless.

“In Catholic Family Fun, Sarah equips all of us parents who share the goal of getting our families to heaven with the tools for making real progress. Instead of just weekly pizza and a movie, Sarah brings our faith into the mix in a vibrant and tangible manner by suggesting ways we can serve others, meals we can make together, and adventures we can experience hand-in-hand.” -Greg Willits

How about that? Promising, right? And, listen to what our fearless 7QT leader has to say about it:

“Every Catholic family needs this book on its bookshelf. Drawing from person experience as a busy mom, Sarah offers parents creative ways to lead their families in entertaining, faith-centered activities.” -Jennifer Fulwiler

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How It Works

Each section has different activities (sorted by time and cost) that any family can execute with ways to modify for your own family and ways to incorporate the Catholic faith.

Make your next trip to the library a Catholic trip. Create a Mary Garden. Set up a treasure hunt. Have a silly story time. Have tea with God. So. Many. Ideas.

And Sarah wants you to try them. That’s why she is giving away a copy of her book to one Call Her Happy-ite (Do you call yourselves that?).

The Giveaway

Be honest, y’all.

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I was given a copy of this book for review, but I really super love it.

My Living Liturgically Arsenal: FEAST! Giveaway

I think living liturgically will become much easier when my kids are a tad bit older. Right now is more just practice as they learn very little (of the intended information – they are always learning something!) from the things I have planned so far this year. Don’t get me wrong: I think it is very beneficial that I am doing this. I am learning a lot, I’m creating a habit, and the kids are enjoying and learning in their own, age appropriate ways. So, I want to continue on this path, but I will need some help. I can’t come up with ideas all on my own. That’s why I have found an arsenal of wonderful books that have all of the ideas already laid out for me. One of my faves? Feast! cookbookcover2r2_new-682x1024 You know Haley, right? Carrots for Michaelmas? Her and her husband created this book out of a true labor of love. Check out her site for more info, but here is a little preview:

Feast! is the book we wish we had when we first started observing the Christian Year. It is 125 pages of real food to celebrate the liturgical year and lives of the saints and reflections on the seasons of the Christian calendar and simple traditions. Feast! features 23 simple real food recipes for the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter, and well-known saints’ days like St. George’s Day, St. Rose of Lima’s Day, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Day as well as less familiar saints like St. Charles Lwanga and St. Raymond Nonnatus.

Giveaway

Feast! is on sale for $4.99 and today is the last day to take advantage. Get yer copy now, or enter to win a digital copy right here. I’ve got your back. RaffleCopter on, my feasters:
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Pope Awesome with a Chainsaw

Silly Facebook memes.

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You’ve read this book, right?
You haven’t?
For shame.

Just read my thoughts on this gem:

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And, I don’t want to brag or anything, but three out of three people found this review helpful. Batting a thousand here.

Giveaway

And, I always love sharing (except when Ellen asks me to share my chocolate covered potato chips in which case, no.) so, I want to give you a digital copy too. Rafflecopter away:

 

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Chit Chat with Simcha + Giveaway

Tell me you have read The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning. If you have not, you know the drill: stop, drop and download.

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This book took me all of three days to read, which, for a mother of diaperlings, that is HUGE. That’s some good stuff right there. I could go on about how fantastic it was, but you can read the review for yourself on Amazon. That’s what they are there for. And, the fact that I am writing about this book should tell you that I recommend it. So there’s that too.

But, what about the gal behind the book? Getting to know her a bit better might give you an idea of the tone of SGNFP. Simcha was kind enough to chat with me a bit about herself, her home, her brain and so on. And, the fact that she took the time to answer a few questions should tell you just how wonderful she is.

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Talk to me about your very first blog post.

As you know, my blog centers on medium to heavy theology, edifying and uplifting thoughts about motherhood, and helpful tips for maintaining a God-centered household — that kind of thing. One day, I looked over to see my toddler eating spaghetti out of the garbage.  Naturally, I rushed right over to take a picture.  Then I realized that other people ought to know about this; so I started a Blogger blog, and that was my first post.  And it’s been downhill ever since.

When you do have time to yourself, what do you think about?

I think mostly about people, and why they are the way they are, and whether anything can or should be done about it.

Which Saints are favorites in your family?

We have a special fondness for Thomas More.  My husband and I kind of improbably met at Thomas More College; and of course he understood how important it was to give his daughters a good education.

St. Francis de Sales always has something helpful to say — something that requires you to do better, without making you feel like a loser.

My oldest daughter has chosen Joan of Arc as her confirmation saint.

Oh, and my other kids are all in love with Miguel Pro.

And Don Bosco has the nicest face I ever saw.

I don’t know if all these saints have anything in common.  Maybe just a deep, unwavering conviction that God will care for them, and that He loves them and wants only good for them.

What three blogs do you read most days without fail?

Cari Donaldson of Clan Donaldson is so entertaining.  I just finished her upcoming book about her conversion story, Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and it was fantastic.

My sister, Devra Torres, blogs for the Personalist Project.  She is always insightful and funny, and brings home her point clearly but so gently (and she finds the greatest illustrations on the internet).

And my brother, Joe Prever, writes about being a celibate, gay Catholic at Steve Gershom.  He has so many insights, not only about what it means to have SSA, but also what it means to be human.  He doesn’t know how to write a dull post.

Why are you proud of The Sinner’s Guide to NFP?

The thing that makes me happiest is when people tell me, “It’s already been helpful.  I’ve already had some good discussions with my husband.  We’re feeling more hopeful about NFP.”  There are so many people trying to make marriage harder:  the secular world putting horrible temptations in our paths, the super uptight Catholic crowd tying up heavy burdens for other people.  I would be very proud to help people remember that God gave us sex and marriage to sanctify us, but also because He thought we might enjoy it.

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Giveaway

So, pair this personality with the glowing reviews, and I present to you The Sinner’s Guide to NFP. And I’m giving away a digital copy because I want you to love this book like I love this book. Best of luck, my friends. (Oh, and legal stuff: I was not paid to read this book, nor was I given a copy to give away. I just like it. Deal with it.)

 

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What We’re Reading Wednesday