What I’m Into :: January 2015

Birthday cake

Awww, look at that baby! That baby who’s not a baby anymore! We didn’t do a big blowout birthday party this year, but we did have cake. And, really, is there anything more disgusting than an adorable baby-not-baby smeared with frosting?

In the real-life category of what I’ve been into this past month, it’s mostly writing. In addition to that, though, I’ve done the typical January things a person does. You know, budgeting and planning and looking at lots of blog posts about Whole 30 meal plans. I paid off a couple pesky bills last night and we have a date night planned for Saturday, so two of those three are going well.

I also inherited Works for Me Wednesday from Kristen at We Are THAT Family, which has been super fun so far! Despite the pressure of a book deadline and nearly three weeks solid of someone in my house being sick at all times, it’s been a decent month.

How was YOUR January? What were YOU into?

Reading January 2015

What I’m Reading:

On the day the next Veronica Mars book was released not one, but two of my friends sent messages – with photos! – bragging about already having their copies. So rude. Of course, I realized later that day that I’d also pre-ordered the book and it appeared on my Kindle as well. I haven’t read it yet, though. I can’t very well stop reading, just because I have a lot to do. But I can save this one for a reward once I have a manuscript ready to turn in. (Maybe.) (Self restraint is not my strength, especially when it comes to not reading things that are within reach on my Kindle.)

I also haven’t read If I Stay yet, and I suspect the library is not too happy that I haven’t made this [overdue] book a priority! Don’t tell the library, but here are the books I’ve read instead:

  • My True Love Gave to Me: This is an anthology of short stories. They’re all young adult, and they’re all holiday-themed. So if that’s not your thing, move along. If it is, though (if you, say, love watching Christmas movies on ABC Family…), get this one. I didn’t love all the stories, but the majority were great.
  • All Fall Down by Ally Carter: As a huge fan of Carter’s other series (Gallagher Girls and Heist Society), I’ve been looking forward to this one. Sadly, I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t mind the darker tone to this first in a new YA series, and the unreliable narrator didn’t bug me too much either. I guess it just kind of plodded and I wasn’t all that shocked by part of the “shocking” ending. Plus I now have to wait forever for the next book.
  • The Accident by Chris Pavone: I liked Expats, Pavone’s first novel, a lot. And this one certainly kept me turning pages, but I wouldn’t say I loved it. I think my biggest problem with it was the timeline. The story doesn’t flow chronologically, though the main story takes place in just one day. There are a ton of flashbacks, but they’re not labeled, so it’s hard to follow. I’m all for books that challenge my brain (Lord knows I need something more challenging than Trivia Crack!), but this seemed unnecessarily confusing. It did stick with me, though. Reading about a controversial manuscript that people are [spoiler, I guess] killed over made me even more paranoid about the huge stack of papers I’ve been working with for my book!
  • The Lost Key by Catherine Coulter & J.T. Ellison: This was the second book in Coulter’s new FBI series, and I really liked it. It’s nothing exciting, more like comfort food. But interesting comfort food with fun characters and decent suspense.

Last thing – if you haven’t read A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson (BooMama), get it NOW. It’s FREE on the Kindle!


What I’m Watching:

Well, I just finished watching Galavant. Eight episodes of goofy musical satire, complete with John Stamos (Uncle Jesse jousting!), Weird Al (monks with jazz hands!) and Ricky Gervais (meh.) – and, though I enjoyed it thoroughly, I think eight episodes were enough. Still, it was fun while it lasted! (And rumors say it might be back, so there’s that, too)

I’ve also been enjoying the return of Hart of Dixie and Parks & Recreation. Parks and Rec is definitely in its last season (sniff, sniff), and I suspect Hart of Dixie is, too. So I’m savoring every single minute we have left. (Similar to how many of you felt about Parenthood, I suspect. My condolences.)

Finally (unless you want a more thorough rundown of January television – and in that case, check out this post on mid-season television!), I am LOVING Hindsight on VH1.

I know, who would think that a TV show on VH1 would be good?! But it IS. So good. It’s about a woman around 40 who, on the eve of her second wedding, travels back to the eve of her first wedding – in 1995. If you have any warm feelings for 90s nostalgia, this is for you. If you love time travel or women who adore their friends, this is for you. If you typically like the sort of things I like, this is for you.

Seriously, it’s my favorite right now. (And it’s on VH1 at 8:00 pm CST on Wednesdays.)

Okay, one last thing I’m watching. So, you know that last year I watched American Idol from start to finish, mostly while feeding a newborn and often in the middle of the night. Well, like you do in this internet age, I also read recaps and reviews of each episode and ended up loving a certain video recap more than the show itself.

More than the show, you ask? Yes. And how do I know? Well, because I’m not watching Idol this year but I have still managed to watch the first three episodes of Reality Check, the TV Line video where Michael Slezak (a TV Line writer) and Melinda Doolittle (an Idol contestant from way back when) talk through the highs and lows of the show. They are hilarious. And smart. But mostly just funny. And, I’m not proud of this, I’m probably going to keep watching even though I have no plans to watch the actual reality show they discuss!

What I’m Listening To:

Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran are pretty much on repeat around here. Totally different types of song (though both obviously pop), but I love them both so much! Man. Both those guys are crazy talented. I was hoping to find a picture of the two of them together, but apparently they don’t hang. Weird.

Oh, wait. Looks like Bruno shared his stage with Ed in St. Louis about a year and a half ago, where he let Ed sing The A Team during his (Bruno’s) concert. Well, still not what I was hoping for, but if you want to watch, here it is. (The A Team, I’ll admit, is not my favorite Ed Sheeran song, though it is so pretty for a tune about prostitution and drugs…)

And probably my favorite video of the month was this cute interview with Dax Shepherd on Ellen. (HT For Every Mom, which has The Best videos and articles for moms!)

So, tell me: What were YOU into this month?

This post will be linked up to Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into.

My 2015 Reading List – Fiction


Yesterday I shared half of my 2015 reading list with you. I’d planned to share the whole thing in one post, but it got WAY too long for that!

Which do you prefer – nonfiction or fiction? My preference is definitely fiction, hands down, no contest. But the problem with that is all the amazing people I know writing [nonfiction] books these days! When a new friend confided last summer that she’s working on a novel, I just about jumped up and hugged her I was so excited.

Of course, if you’ve been around here for any time at all, you know my love for fluffy fiction runs about as deep as my commitment to pop music and the CW. So it’s probably a good thing I have reasons to read nonfiction. I’m never sorry when I do, and while some novels linger in my memory for a while, it’s only the nonfiction books that truly change my life.

Still, today is all about the fiction. So let’s get to it!

Reading List 2015 - Fiction

Fiction (both the Adult & YA variety)

  • Me Before You by JoJo Moyes: Everyone has read it and says it’s a must. It’s been sitting on my Kindle for a month now…
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King: I tried reading this time travel book early last year, but my brain wasn’t quite ready that soon after having a baby. I think I’m ready now (and since I gave it to my dad for Christmas, I won’t even have to wait for the library to get it in!).
  • Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty: All the lists have this one pegged as A Big Deal, so I’ll add it to my list, too. And I really liked What Alice Forgot, so I’m betting all those other lists are right.
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin: I bought this book for my grandma after seeing it on Amy’s list of best books of 2014. She’s since passed it on to my aunt, who said I can read it next. The family that reads together… Wait, is that a thing?
  • First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen: I saw this one on somebody else’s list and immediately added it to mine. I read – and really liked – The Peach Keeper by Allen a few years ago, so I have high hopes for this one!
  • The Accident by Chris Pavone: Publishing and spying in one book? Yes, please. This book is actually sitting in my bedroom right now, so it’s up next. (Also, I loved Pavone’s last book, The Expats. So, again, high hopes!)
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Well, I don’t know. Everyone is recommending it these days, most recently Jill. It’s historical fiction, which isn’t my favorite, but I’ll give it a try.
  • Mr. Kiss & Tell: An Original Veronica Mars Mystery (#2) by Rob Thomas: Obviously.
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell: I’ve read mixed reviews on this one. Eleanor & Park was outstanding, but some reviewers have said this one isn’t so much. But it’s time travel-ish, so you know I’m going to read it anyway.
  • Sabotaged (Alaskan Courage #5) by Dani Pettrey: This has been one of my favorite Christian fiction series, and I’m both looking forward to this final installment – and dreading it because it will mean the end of the series. #booknerdproblems
  • The Escape by David Baldacci: I haven’t loved Baldacci’s recent novels as much as his first ones. But, at least for now, I’ll still read every single one he writes and hope for a return of that early greatness.
  • The Job (Fox & Hare #3) by Lee Goldberg & Janet Evanovich: Okay. I loved the first book in this series and thought it had great potential. But the second one was a bore. So I guess what I’m saying is that The Job is The Tiebreaker for deciding how invested I am in this series.
  • Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: I liked Benway’s books about a high school safe cracker and spy. And I tend to like books about childhood friends finding romance. So even though the title is uber cutesy, I’m looking forward to reading this.
  • Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge: Ohhhhhh, I loved Hodge’s first books SO MUCH! Twisted, reimagined fairy tale retellings are all the rage, but her take on Beauty and the Beast (and Cinderella, to an extent) was one of the most original things I’ve ever read. I can’t wait for this one!
  • All Fall Down by Ally Carter: I’ve been waiting and waiting for Ally Carter to start a new series. I loved both her previous series, Gallagher Girls (high school spy girls) and Heist Society (high school con artists). I believe this is what I’ll be using the Amazon gift card I got for Christmas to buy!
  • Talon by Julie Kagawa: It’s a YA book about dragons. Okay? And I’m going to read it. I have no defense for this, and I’ll let you know how it is.
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman: When the movie came out last year, friends said the book was really good. So I’ve had it checked out from the library for…um…a while. It’s overdue. I need to read it NOW.
  • The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand: I’m not sure about this one. I adored Hand’s Unearthly series. But this looks very different. And maybe depressing. So I’ll probably wait for some reviews before picking it up. But it’s on my list.
  • Alienated by Melissa Landers: An exchange student program with aliens? Sure, why not?! This book sounds very similar to Star-Crossed, the short-lived CW show from last year. Which I kind of liked. And watched every episode. So of course I’m reading this book.

I also really want to read a classic or two this year, probably Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights or something by Jane Austen. And I’d love to read The Count of Monte Cristo (it would meet the “book originally written in another language” category on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge!), but holy page count, Batman! Perhaps I should get it for my Kindle so I don’t end up needing a wrist brace.

And, assuming they come out in 2015, I’m sure I’ll also read the first book in Rick Riordan’s new series, the next book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, and whatever Irene Hannon, DiAnn Mills, Jenny B. Jones and Catherine Coulter publish. Oh, and the next books in the Miss Fortune Mystery series by Jana DeLeon, the Lexi Carmichael Mystery series by Julie Moffett, the GenEx Saga series by Holly Lauren, and the Rose Gardner Mystery series by Denise Grover Swank.

See! Your eyes would’ve glazed over for sure if I’d combined these two reading lists into one!

What’s on YOUR 2015 reading list?

This post includes affiliate links. Image from CCAC North Library on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

My 2015 Reading List – Nonfiction & Memoir


I’m not a big shopper. No matter what size I am, I am somehow never proportioned correctly for any clothes I ever try on. And while in theory I understand the draw of cute shoes, when it comes down to it, I don’t really get the need for more than a couple of pairs. Practical pairs, at that. {I know – you can hardly get over how fun I am.}

And don’t even talk to me about grocery shopping.

But what I do love shopping for is BOOKS. My first job was shelving books at the public library. That meant, in exchange for my minimum wage labor, my mad alphabetizing skills, and my sometimes attempt to QUIT TALKING, I had the opportunity to wander up and down the rows of books for hours at a time, pulling out the ones I wanted to check out and take home that day. It was the best.

I still love walking through the stacks of a library or bookstore, but most of my browsing these days is done digitally. I couldn’t even begin to count how many hours of sleep I’ve lost not reading an actual book (though those hours are innumerable), but browsing through the recommended titles on my Kindle or clicking on review after review on Goodreads.

Big surprise that Goodreads is one of my favorite places on the internet, right? Books and lists? Does it GET any better? However, this obsession of mine comes at a price – and that is the overwhelming feeling that I will never have enough time to read all the books I want! I have said, more than once and not completely joking, that people need to stop writing books. Seriously. All of you book-writing people, stop it. Let us CATCH UP, will you?

{Of course, this is completely hypocritical of me, given my own book project. But let’s just ignore that for now, shall we?}

The only way to deal with this world of SO MANY BOOKS is {obviously} to make a reading list. Personally, because my list is so long and always growing, I also have to make a reading plan. But that’s another post for another time. For now, I’m going to share my list of books to read in 2015. Of course, this is a living document. I’ll add to the list throughout the year (and never get around to some of these, I’m sure), but this is the list I’m starting with.

Reading List 2015 - Non-Fiction

Nonfiction & Christian Living

Reading List 2015 - Memoir


Whew! That’s already a huge list, and I haven’t even told you the novels I’m looking forward to reading. Come back tomorrow for that list! Until then, I want to know what YOU’RE reading.

What’s on YOUR 2015 reading list?

This post includes affiliate links. Image from CCAC North Library on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

2014 Year in Review (Finally!)


Looking back at 2014 makes me a little dizzy. It was a big year, a busy year, a good year, a hard year. I was tired every single day of the year, but I’m pretty sure I smiled every single day of the year. Having a baby will do that to a person.

I missed the acceptable window for sending Christmas cards, but I can still share a few of my favorite 2014 family photos here, can’t I?







I’m pretty sure I will never get tired of that pirate picture. Just LOOK at that parrot!!! Anyway. Some of the highlights from my last year were:

As for this blog, it was a pretty uneven year here, too. The posts you liked most were the ones about books and TV, as well as my nearly monthly What I’m Into recaps. Two of my favorite posts were about life with my favorite people: Enough Moments (about parenting) and When Stubborn is a Good Thing (marriage). And I continued to enjoy writing for (in)courage, Mom Advice, and Mothers of Daughters.

Chocolate Chunk Brownies (2)

Then there are the posts that the internet liked. (You know, the ones that got shared and pinned a whole lot?) I liked them, too – they were fun to write. I do love my lists (and my brother’s recipes).

books vs. broom

But since you all like chatting about books and movies and TV shows best, let’s do a little roundup of 2014 in pop culture! A few favorites:

My Favorite Books Read in 2014:

  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • Timebound by Rysa Walker
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  • Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
  • The GenEx Saga series by Holly Lauren
  • All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

I read a lot – A LOT – more than this short list. But these were the ones I most enjoyed or thought about long after finishing the last chapter. I also adored reading My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories over the (you guessed it) holidays. It’s a collection of short stories by popular YA authors, and I loved several of them.

My Favorite Movies Watched in 2014:

  • Veronica Mars – This reminds me. I need to watch this again, stat.
  • Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise was very Tom Cruise-y, and I liked it.
  • Maleficent – So dark and gorgeous and just lovely! Twisted fairy tales for the win!
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Fun. So much fun! Great music, too – plus a talking raccoon and a Groot.
  • This is Where I Leave You – I laughed. I cried. And I wondered why there aren’t more movies with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman.

I also saw Monuments Men, one I’d been looking forward to for months. Sadly, it was super boring. And then there was Winter’s Tale. You know, the one with Colin Farrell and the girl from Downton Abbey? It came out quite a while ago, but Smitty and I watched it in December. It was THE funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time . . . but I don’t think it was supposed to be a comedy . . .

My Favorite TV Shows Watched in 2014:

  • Friday Night Lights. BEST EVER.
  • I also really loved watching American Idol during the many hours I spent feeding a newborn.
  • And Playing House was my favorite new show. (Did you watch this? It is SO funny. It’s on Hulu. Go watch it now!)

My Favorite Commercials from 2014:

Tina Fey’s American Express commercials are the best. I love them. This one especially, because seriously – shopping for girls is kind of the worst.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd are trying to sell me Samsung products, but all they’ve really sold me is HOW ADORABLE THEY ARE. I mean, really.

My Favorite Video Parodies from 2014:

Weird Al with Word Crimes, obviously:

Also, this Talk Nerdy to Me cracked me up (though, for the record, I’m NOT quite THIS nerdy!):

It’s hard to pick just one of these funny ladies’ videos, but this Pinterest parody of Shake It Off is my favorite!

It seems weird that such a big year can be wrapped up in such a short (for me) post. Then again, we’re halfway through January, so it’s probably okay this way. But now I want to know about YOUR 2014!

What was your favorite part of last year?

Some Thoughts on Mid-Season TV Shows


It might be the bleak midwinter when the air is so cold it hurts our faces, but it’s also time for new TV shows. And that pretty much makes everything better, no?

Yes, pretty much.

Also, important note before diving into my [equally important] thoughts on mid-season TV premieres . . . Remember that time I started a TV blog? Wouldn’t that graphic up there have been GREAT for it? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Too bad that blog kind of flopped. And I hadn’t seen that graphic then anyway. ANYWAY.

I watched three new TV shows this week, so it seemed like this is the right time to talk about all the new TV goodness heading our way this month!


First, the shows I’ve watched.

  • Galavant: I was so very excited for this show. As I commented on Facebook, I’ve been waiting for it since I saw the very first preview – OR FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE. Wellllll, I don’t think this is what I’ve been waiting my whole life for, but it was pretty funny. Galavant is a fairytale musical spoof, and it stars Lassiter from Psych as BY FAR the funniest character (the king). It also features John Stamos as a guest star, which is never a bad move. For eight episodes I will thoroughly enjoy it. And when Once Upon a Time returns, I might possibly be sad when those fairytale characters both do not sing and take themselves extremely seriously. (Sundays on ABC)
  • Agent Carter: I wasn’t sure if this would be for me, since I didn’t love the first Captain America movie, still haven’t seen the second one, and have not watched Agents of SHIELD (the other Marvel TV show) at all. But then there’s the part where it’s a female hero and . . . wait, no, that was it. I watched it for that reason only, and you know what? I LOVED IT. To be clear, I don’t love Chad Michael Murry WHATSOEVER. I swear it’s like he’s playing dress-up and pretend. But maybe I’ve watched A Cinderella Story too many times to see him as anything other than a high school student secretly in love with Hilary Duff. Either way, I like this show a lot. (Tuesdays on ABC)
  • Hindsight: So there’s time travel and 90s nostalgia. Um, why WOULDN’T I watch this? I don’t know, maybe because it’s on VH1? Whatever. It is, and I watched it anyway – and YES, I liked it. YES, I added it to my DVR. YES, it might’ve been better as a Hallmark movie, but I don’t care and will watch it for now. If you’re about my age, you’ll probably like it, too. And wish you still had a big flannel shirt.

There’s one show I haven’t watched that I find intriguing . . . based on the commercials . . . which were made to intrigue me. That’s Empire. Did anyone watch that one? What did you think?


And then there are not-new premiering shows:

  • Downton Abbey: I stopped watching this a few seasons ago when I read a spoiler about a main character dying. THIS IS WHY SPOILERS ARE THE WORST. (And, you know, also why I should probably not read so many entertainment websites. Whatever.) But many of you still love this show and are watching it, so feel free to discuss in the comments (without spoilers, DUH). Or berate me for no longer watching. Whatever floats your boat. (Sundays on PBS)
  • Parenthood: I can’t handle this show. It is TOO MUCH REAL, HARD, HONEST STUFF. Too much with the emotions, and I just can’t. Linda Holmes of NPR agrees, so obviously I’m right. But I realize some of you are made of hardier stuff than me and will watch this to the end. Which is coming up soon. You’re crying now, aren’t you? Not so tough now, are you? (I’m kidding. Anyone who can handle this show is way tougher than me. Way.) (Thursdays on NBC)
  • Suits: Fine, fine, nothing special about this season premiere. But I love this show and can’t WAIT to see who gets LITT UP now that Louis (Litt) has been made partner. (Who else watches this one?) (Wednesdays on USA)
  • Parks & Recreation: Oh man. Now I *am* going to cry! I adore this show. It is super funny, but the characters? I JUST LOVE THEM. And they love each other. And the actors seem to love each other. And they have fun making this show, and I am definitely going to cry at all the parts of this last [short] season! (No, that photo is not from the upcoming season. But I found it and couldn’t resist it. I mean, come on! Balloon Leslie and Ben?!) (Tuesdays on NBC)

The Odd Couple - Cast Promotional Photo

And, last a few shows coming up later this winter/spring:

  • Fresh Off the Boat: Will this be funny? I have no idea. I saw a preview that made me chuckle, and I read an article that promised it would be great. But I’m not sure. Thoughts? (Wednesdays on ABC)
  • The Odd Couple: This will not be good. I’m sure it will not be. I can’t even find a trailer. Or any actual information other than that it stars Matthew Perry. But since I seem to be incapable of NOT watching any show with Matthew Perry, I will be watching anyway. (Thursdays on CBS)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Created by Tina Fey, this show . . . no, that’s it. The rest of it sounds iffy – girl escapes from cult and tries to make it in New York City, sold to Netflix by NBC for two seasons. Basically, I think Tina Fey is very smart and funny, so I’ll check out this show for that reason alone.

What did I miss? What are you watching right now?

Photo source