The Little Things
December 14, 2016

Disclaimer: I received a container of Earth’s Care pain relieving ointment to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

I have major problems with my muscles aching and with increased injuries (I can thank POTS for that!), so I have gathered up a good supply of items that help with managing and decreasing various types of pain. Earth’s Care’s care pain relieving ointment is now part of that that supply!

Earth’s Care is a company that believes in creating products with primarily natural ingredients, have no artificial colors or fragrances, no parabens, and isn’t tested on animals. I have really sensitive skin, especially in the winter, so this feels important to me.

This is the description the company gives for the pain relieving ointment: ” It features Camphor, Menthol and Wintergreen oil that work together as an effective analgesic. This soothing formula brings fast temporary relief from sore muscles, joint pain, backache, and arthritis.”

The first thing I noticed when I opened up my container of ointment is the smell! Some Pro’s have said that it is a little too strong for them, but it really doesn’t bother me at all. It feels minty and fresh. It leaves a tiny bit of residue behind, but it’s not really greasy or anything like that.

I was sort of expecting a tingly feeling like Icy hot or Biofreeze, but there wasn’t any of that. It just felt- normal, and maybe just a little warm.

I’ve used the ointment on my left foot/heel where I have tendinitis, as well as my neck and shoulders, and have really enjoyed the product. I also love how natural it is. It makes me feel better about putting it on me to be absorbed!

As a side note about the company. I actually first heard of them while testing out Bulu Box almost a year ago. I got the dry and cracked skin balm in that box, and really enjoyed it. I still have it in my drawer at work and just pulled it out a few weeks ago once it got cold again. So, that being said, I do actually use products from this company in my everyday life!

If you are interested in looking into other products by Earths Care, you can check out their website here.

Now it’s your turn to share! What’s one of your go to pain relieving products?

 

December 12, 2016

Well, 2016 felt like the most difficult year of running that I’ve had, as I got injured in March and it has lingered all year. This is the first year since 2011 that I haven’t run a half marathon (I ran my first in 2012 and have run at least two a year since that time), which really hurts my heart a bit! That being said, running has been a source of health and joy for several months of 2016, so I wanted to still recognize running for what it was.

1. Best Race Experience: My best race experience (I only ran two 5k’s this year) was the Homecoming 5k I ran back in October. It was the first time I’d run a 5k since August, and only my 2nd time since I got injured, so I enjoyed it for what it was- a beautiful run. I ran it much faster than I thought I would, and every step of it felt like a beautiful thing.

2. Best Run: My longest two runs of the year, a 7 and 8 miler, were by far my favorites (I love those 7 milers and eight hilly miles). 7 milers agree with my body the most out of any distance I’ve found. My 8 miler felt so very solid, and I ran more hills than I normally do. I felt so confident after that run.

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3. Best new piece of gear: One of the best new pieces of gear I got this year were the 2XU compression pants that I got at the start of the year. I wear it after most of my runs in the winter, and have really enjoyed having compression for recovery!

4. Best piece of running advice received: Honestly, it’s been the PT exercises that I’ve been doing for my achilles tendinitis!

5. Most Inspirational Runners. The 2016 Olympic runners! I found so much inspiration watching them in trials and throughout the actual Olympics. I’ve especially enjoyed hearing about how all of them have come back from injuries along the way. It’s helped keep things in perspective.

6. If you could sum up your running year in a couple of words, what would they be? Frustrating and mostly non-existent.

7. Favorite song(s) to run to: I listened to podcasts or audiobooks on most of the runs that I’ve done this year!

8. Favorite running quote from the year: “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” -Shalane Flanagan

9. Most exciting running moment of 2016? Thinking about coming back (at least a bit!) in 2017!

Honestly, I have no idea where 2017 will take me. I’m not sure if my Achilles tendinitis will be feeling ok enough that I’ll be able to run a half marathon. But I’m going to take the runs as they come and try to enjoy the process!

Now it’s your turn to share! Tell me one exciting thing about your 2016 year in running!

December 6, 2016

November flew by faster than almost any month this year, so I’m hoping that December slows down just a little so I can fully enjoy the Christmas season! November was full of reading, where I averaged a little over a book every other day. SEND HELP! I’m not sure how that’s possible with how much time I spend working, with friends, and exercising, but somehow I’ve fit it all in! In November I read 20 books; I think that’s the most I’ve ever read in a month before. Scroll down to the bottom of the book list to see which ones were my favorites, and which ones you should add to your own list!

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Sully: My Search For What Really Matters: This book is about Captain Sully, the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson a few years ago. I really enjoyed this story, and found it hard to turn off the audiobook multiple times. I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars.

Temptation Ridge, Paradise Valley, Forbidden Falls, Angel’s Peak:  More books from Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Series.

If You Only Knew: It took me a bit to really get into the story, but I loved the character arc for the main characters, and especially enjoyed some of the lessons they learned. This book, like a few others I read this month, looked at the dynamics in both family and marriage relationships! I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars.

The Singles Game: I enjoyed reading a book around the competition of tennis, as that isn’t something I generally read about. Entertaining enough, but not the best by any means. I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.

The Good Goodbye: This story is a bit of a suspense, and all about family dynamics that play out. Two cousins are in a fire and are wounded and in the hospital. The story jumps around between moments in the past and the current story, slowly unfolding more and more information that keeps you guessing on who started the fire. I gave it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: 3.5 stars. This was a very quick and easy audiobook full of fun little stories and examples of parents and people in careers making their mornings more healthy and productive. I enjoyed it.

Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life: Meh- moments were funny. It was a good book to listen to in the car, but I wouldn’t have wanted to sit down and spend time reading it. 3 out of 5 stars.

Between The World and Me: Written by an African American male, this is a series of essays that he writes to his son about being a minority in the U.S. He talks a bit about the history of racism, and the lessons that racism has taught us today. An interesting and powerful look into a life that is very different than my own. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Between Sisters: This book is by Kristin Hannah, who also wrote the Nightingale (which I absolutely loved!) and was about the complex family relationships that play out, particularly under times of stress. I didn’t care about the characters or story the first 40% of the book, was intrigued by 48% and was hooked by 58%. By the end I was definitely hooked and felt pretty emotional. Worth a read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

All The Bright Places: So I started this book about 15 months ago but set it aside at 15% because I had hit an incredibly busy season of life. I finally sat down to read it about two weeks ago and I absolutely loved it! This is worth a read. Just a warning- this is about suicide, so if that isn’t something you’d want to read about or would trigger you, then perhaps this book isn’t for you!

A Little Bit Wicked: This is Kristin Chenoweth’s autobiography. She played the “good witch” in the musical Wicked, and I really enjoyed reading about how she came to do theater and what the experience of performing in Wicked was like!

A Stolen Life: This book, by Jaycee Dugard, is her story about being stolen on the way to the bus stop as a child. She spent 18 years being held captive, and the book chronicles what happened in those years. There were moments that were deeply painful to read.

Tell Me Three Things: I rated this a 3.5 out of 5. I was expecting/hoping for more.

Night: This book, by Elie Wiesel, is the first of 3 books in a trilogy. This book chronicles his time in Nazi Concentration Camps during WWII. I read the book in high school right before hearing him speak, but decided over Thanksgiving to sit down and read it again. It’s a short book and definitely worth a read.

It Ends With Us:  This was one of my favorite books of 2016 so far! I simply can’t put into words how good this book was and how important the message that it communicates is. This is a story of the deeply difficult decisions we make. Decisions that, from the outside, might appear cut and dry, but in reality are deeply complex and difficult. I loved it. Deeply.

Vampire Academy #1: A friend has been encouraging me to read this series, so I finally started it on my way home from Thanksgiving. It was a fun book about the “vampire world”.

The Perfect Girl: I didn’t even care about this book enough to write a review of it on goodreads, but I did give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

So- here are my “Must Read” books from the month: It Ends With Us, Night, All The Bright Places, and Between The World and Me.

Now it’s your turn to share! What have you read this month? 

November 30, 2016

I’m not sure how I first heard about It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, but I remember immediately putting it on my holds list (I had to wait over a month for it!) at the library. It finally arrived right before Thanksgiving, so this was one of the books that I read over Thanksgiving break.

It Ends With Us follows Lily Bloom as she processes her dad’s death (and therefore her history and parents marriage as a result) and thinks about what that means for her life and her future in relationships. On the night of her dad’s funeral, she meets Ryle, but doesn’t think much of it. She runs into him a few more times before deciding to explore the relationship a bit more.

What comes next was shocking and unexpected, and taps into her past history. I don’t want to share too much about what happens moving forward, but it made my heart ache. I think that It Ends With Us is an important story about the issues in life that, from the outside might appear black-and-white, but when you’re in them are deeply complex and confusing.

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I felt drawn into the characters’ stories right from the start. I felt their feelings, I felt the pain in their hearts, and I simply couldn’t put the book down. The book explores important topics, and I think it’s valuable to read. I wish I could give it to clients. It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, it’s emotional.

Here are a few quotes that stood out to me from the story:

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

“There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”

 

“Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet.”

I wish I could share with you my favorite paragraph from the book (towards the very end of it!) but it would give it away. I’ll just say this- It Ends With Us pierced my heart and now, almost a week later as I type this, I can’t let those sentences go. I’ve read and re-read them. It’s powerful, and one of my favorites from 2016.

Now it’s your turn to read! What’s one book you’ve read in life that continues to stand out to you?

November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving has been a very typical holiday for me. I spent Thanksgiving in the house I grew up in all but one year (2014 I spent it at a friend’s house with family). To me, Thanksgiving means going downtown to get donuts, go on a Thanksgiving day walk in my neighborhood, and sitting down in my dining room to eat.

This year I couldn’t do any of that because my parents sold that house. There’s no going back, and for me, that feels a little difficult to think about, especially during the holiday season.

SO, this year, we decided to do something totally different and went to one of our favorite places- Florida! It certainly didn’t feel like Thanksgiving with walks on the beach and hours spent under the palm trees, but I enjoyed it. I love sunshine and palm trees and water but, it’s not really Thanksgiving, you know? That being said, I thought I’d share some pictures of my totally different Thanksgiving!


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As soon as I landed I went to Dunkin Donuts to get a Coconut Iced Coffee (it was in the 80’s out!). I immediately took it out to the pool to enjoy.

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One of my favorite things is reading in the mornings before anyone else is awake. Especially when coffee is involved!

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But reading by the pool every day is also great! I read four books while down there, but the two I enjoyed most where Night and It Ends With Us. I suppose both were a bit heavy for a fun break, but they were great.

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Thanksgiving morning we enjoyed donuts because I was raised to believe that donuts need to happen during every holiday.

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I was also raised to believe that you shouldn’t have to pick just one type of pie on Thanksgiving.

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I took 2-4 mile barefoot walks on the beach each afternoon, and enjoyed sunsets on the beach each evening.

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The last morning I was there I went on an early morning run, running along the boardwalk before running a bit on the sand (so tough!).

I ached to be home, waking up in my bedroom, cooking in my kitchen, and eating in my dining room, but I have to remember that my childhood home, while always important, is just a place. I’m thankful for new, happy memories of this Thanksgiving, for time with friends and family over break, for good food, for safety, and for reading.

Now it’s your turn to share! What was your favorite part about break?

 

November 21, 2016

November has been absolutely gorgeous around here, with temps most days in the 70’s and lots of sunshine! I can’t complain about that 🙂 Today we have some occasional spitting snow, and I’m cuddled up under a blanket with a fire going, and decided to share another “Currently” post with all of you!

Currently drinking: Caramel Vanilla flavored black coffee. It’s delicious!

Currently eating: Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf. I swung by to get coffee this morning and saw it sitting in the case and I just HAD to have it. I rarely get anything to eat from Starbucks, so this was a delicious treat!

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Currently listening to: Pentatonix Christmas songs! I absolutely love Pentatonix and their Christmas songs are some of my favorites for the season! I’m also listening to a few podcasts including Dear Book Nerd and What Should I Read Next?

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Currently Watching: Gilmore girls! I’m so excited for the new Gilmore Girls season coming out this week, and just HAD to get a little fix now 🙂 In reality show news, I’m loving Below Deck and Vanderpump Rules. So much drama.

Currently Reading: Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Series, Kristin Hannah’s “Between Sisters”. I had 5 holds come up at once from the library so I’m trying to quickly get through a number of books! Good thing break is coming 🙂

Currently Smelling: My Mulled Apple Cider candle! I’m trying to use up the last of it before I transition to my Christmas Candles!

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Currently Excited For:  THANKSGIVING BREAK! I’m excited to see my family and have a few days off of work.

Currently Wearing: OPI’s Muir Muir On The Wall. I absolutely love this dark color with flecks of gold! I’m also wearing leggings and my puffy purple vest that is a staple all winter.

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Currently Loving: The Pandemic Board Game! I can’t get enough of it, and we’re desperately trying to pass the game on hard. I’m also loving cozy Saturdays with blankets, coffee, and reading!

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Now it’s your turn to share! What are you currently loving right now? Are you a Gilmore Girls fan?

November 15, 2016

Disclaimer: I received a pair of xx2i Brazil1 sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

I love a good pair of sunglasses, especially when they are comfortable! I previously had reviewed the xx2i optics sunglasses, so I know that the company makes solid sunglasses. That made me all the more excited when these beauties showed up on my porch!

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These are casual sunglasses, so I wouldn’t wear them to run or bike (unless it was all I had and really needed them), but I’ve loved wearing them around on walks and doing yard work.

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The first thing I noticed is the polarized lenses that use 8k optical technology, which allows for frame durability and lens clarity! I feel like these lenses don’t “get in the way” like some sunglasses seem to! I also am really into polarized lenses for some reason.

The lenses come in an awesome, sturdy case as well, which makes it easy for me to throw the sunglasses on the seat of my car and know that they’ll be safe.

I’ve worn these sunglasses on walks and raking, and they’ve stayed on my head nicely, and are really comfortable (no painful digging behind my ears or on the side of my head!).

There are some fun accents on them as well, which I’ve been loving!

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The one complaint about the Brazil1 sunglasses that I have is that the nose piece area is a little too big for me, so they do slide sideways back and forth a tiny bit when I move my head quickly. It’s not too noticeable, but I was trying to take note of all sorts of little things as I was reviewing them. I could use sunglasses that are just a bit more narrow.

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These sunglasses have been fun to try out as we’ve had an extra long and warm fall, and I’ve spent a lot more time outside than some falls.

The best thing about these sunglasses is there is a 365 day return policy and a lifetime frame and lens warranty! You can’t complain about that, can you? 🙂

You can read more about the Brazil1 sunglasses here!

For 60% off your own pair of Brazil1 sunglasses, use code BRAZIL1 – valid until Tuesday November 22nd at midnight!

Now it’s your turn to share! How have you been enjoying this beautiful fall? Do you scratch sunglass lens’ easily?

November 8, 2016

I’ve previously talked about my love for goodreads and how it has impacted my reading. I made another addition to my reading that has really stepped up my reading game this year, and it has to do with the Public Library.

In my state there is a program where, for about $65 a year, you can purchase a card which allows you to get a library card at any public library in the state! I had never heard about it before, but Melissa had gotten one a month or two earlier and had told me about it! What a cool idea, right?

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I live in an area where the public libraries are fine, but they are smaller so there were many books that I desired to read that just weren’t options, or there would only be one copy of a kindle book, so I’d have to wait 6+ months for some books. No good.

With this new card, I now have library cards at multiple libraries in bigger cities so I can put holds in at the places that will get me the books the fastest. No waiting 6 months, and I have far more access to books.

With my kindle, I don’t even have to go to the libraries that are a bit further away because I can put on holds and check out books from my couch!

I’ve LOVED it and has made reading an even more joyful and easy experience.

I know there are other states out there that have similar types of cards, so I wanted to share this with all of you and encourage you to ask your local public library to see if it is an option.

I don’t love spending money, but that $65 feels so incredibly worth it! I think public libraries are such a cool option, and I feel good about putting a little money towards supporting them as well.

Now it’s your turn to share! Tell me one thing that you love about reading! Do you regularly use the library?

November 7, 2016

Disclaimer: I received a SPIBELT to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

Always be prepared, right? I’m someone who likes to be prepared for what I’m going to do, and SPIBelt definitely helps me do that!

When I first started running back in 2011, my dad went out and purchased for me my very first SPIBelt. I’ve used it multiple times a week since that time, but unfortunately it is on its last leg (and it went from pink to white after all the miles in the sunshine!). I’ve loved that thing, but when I had the opportunity to test out the SPIBelt Performance Series belt, I jumped on it immediately.

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The SPIBelt comes in a variety of colors, and loving the color pink, I knew I needed to choose something with at least a bit of pink in it!

The SPIBelt is adjustable which is fantastic. Here are a few other notable facts about it:

  • Bounce-free
  • 4 loops for energy gels (I haven’t tried this out yet but I’m REALLY excited about this)
  • Weather-resistant pocket and zipper (NOT WATERPROOF or rain-proof!!! Just like a weather-resistant watch, it can withstand some light precipitation but don’t wear it out in the pouring rain or let it get doused)
  • Fits larger phones like iPhone 6 Plus
  • Comfortable, soft elastic prevents chafing
  • Pocket expands to 8″ x 4″ x 2″

The SPIBelt is so comfy, and I’ve worn it while hiking, walking, and running, and I’ve barely even noticed that it’s there.

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SPIBelt and fall running 🙂

Here’s how you wear the SPIBelt:

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While running, I love to not only bring my phone, but I often have a dollar for an emergency, a key, food, and maybe some extra salt. That’s a lot to carry, but the SPIBelt makes it so easy to carry everything you need without really noticing.

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SPIBelt was my first essential running item, and five years into my running journey, it remains an essential workout item!

The best thing is that it’s useful for other things as well, such as holding my phone while I mow the lawn!

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SPIBelt is awesome not only for running, but for all your active life/chores around the house sorts of needs. I’d definitely recommend it! To get 20% off your own SPIBelt, use code bibchat2016 until November 18th!

Now it’s your turn to share! What would you carry in your SPIBelt while out on a run, bike ride, walk, or hike?

November 2, 2016

October is over (WHAT?! Wasn’t it just July?) and with that, another month of reading is complete. October was especially exciting, as I crossed the 100 books read mark, which I didn’t think would ever be possible for me! I’ll give a quick summary or statement about each book, and at the bottom I’ll give you the books I would most suggest you read from the month!

book-list-oct-2016

So with that, here’s what I read in October:

First Comes Love: This book, by Emily Giffin, I rated a 3-3.5 stars on goodreads. I would be excited to sit down and read for the first half of the book, but couldn’t remember anything about the book. Nothing really stood out or made it memorable. I felt that that sort of cued me in to the connectedness I felt to the characters. Once I hit the half way point things got better.

Mockingjay: I read the final book in this trilogy again this October, and as always, felt invested in the story until the very end.
It Was Me All Along: This autobiography was not too exciting at all, and I rated it a 2.5. I listened to the audiobook, some the personable voice definitely helped. I didn’t really enjoy it though.
A Virgin River Christmas and Second Chance Pass (Virgin River Series): These are books #5 and #6 from the Robyn Carr Series that I’m currently reading. The series is enjoyable enough that I keep reading it, although by no means is it the best books or best series I’ve read.
Before The Fall: I’ve heard a lot of hype about this book, so I was pretty excited to read it. Honestly, I felt “meh” about it. The book follows the storylines of multiple characters who are involved in a plane crash, and the story is about figuring out what happened. I felt like some of the story lines just weren’t pertinent to the story, leaving me feeling bored at points.
Living With No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier: I enjoy stories about overcoming, about facing incredibly difficult parts of our humanness and being resilient. Choosing to face our darkest moments and endure is inspiring, and this story was certainly inspirational, being a great reminder of resiliency. I really enjoyed the true story of Noah Galloway who lost an arm and leg while at war.
The Voting Booth: A new vision for Christian engagement in a post-Christian culture. 
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo: This is Amy Shumer’s book, and she was very true to herself throughout. Some parts felt unnecessarily vulgar, but largely I enjoyed the book and laughed quite a bit throughout. I listened to this in audiobook form and really enjoyed it that way.
Free to Fall: I really enjoyed this book! It’s set in the future, and looks at what it’s like when technology takes completely over life, dictating our lives. In the book, an app tells people when to leave for work, what to wear, what coffee they’d like to drink, etc… but the story itself was a great read!
The Underground Railroad: I gave this book three stars, which definitely grieved me, as I wanted to give it a better rating, especially because I really liked the storyline. There were parts of the book that felt deeply difficult and painful to read, as the truly terrible things that happened to slaves was talked about There was something about the author’s style that I didn’t love. I also think this is a book I would’ve enjoyed actually reading instead of listening to the audiobook.
Surviving The Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Aushwitz. I had watched a documentary about the Mozes’ Twins in college, and found there story to be both interesting and inspiring (again, with being resilient and thriving in the face of deep evil and pain). This was a really quick read- I read it in an afternoon.
Present Over Perfect: This was not one of my favorite Shauna Niequist books, which I’m a little sad about because I was expecting great things from the book. That being said, she has a beautiful way of saying things, and I found myself doing screen shots of multiple pages of the book.
And there we have it- another month of reading complete. This brings my total for 2016 to 107 books, which I’m happy about! So what are my “must reads” from the month?

Now it’s your turn to share! What books have you read recently? What book are you most looking forward to reading in the next month or two?