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Thankful for the Sun AND the Storms


It's the day after Thanksgiving and this morning, I woke up with so much on my heart. The holiday season has always been an interesting one for me. In about a week, it'll be the anniversary of my dad passing away--lodged between the two most festive times of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Although this could be a hard time, I recognize that gratitude is good for the heart. This morning, I felt like God was literally dragging me out of bed, inviting me to get before Him and be still. It was time well spent and this morning, some serious heart work was done. I took out my journal and Bible and began to write. What came out?

A gratitude list! Now before you begin throwing confetti over how "awww" that sounds, let me be honest. 


It was hard for me. 

*gasp* "Jenn, you have SO much to be grateful for! You should have pages and pages of things to write."  Yep. I shared the same sentiments. 

So why was I having a hard time writing this list? Why did it feel like I was reaching? Why? Why? Why?

And in God's gentleness, this is where He led me. 

My Fall TBR List!!!




I love Fall. I love everything about it. The cool air. The sound of crisp autumn leaves under my shoes. The warm earth tones that paint the sky annnd the yummy seasonal beverages (Hi Starbucks!) Now that we're officially 5 days into Fall, I figured I'd join in on the Broke and the Bookish's TBR list prompt.

This week's feature is our Fall TBR List and I couldn't be more excited! Fall may be just what I need to get out of the reading slump I've been in.




Confession: I Haven't Been Totally Honest

Hi! Remember me? 

Before you begin slamming the door in my face, hear me out. I know I have been extremely inconsistent this summer. First, let me begin my apologizing. Finding balance is a personal goal of mine and it is definitely a process. 

I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit this summer and my highlight was definitely time in Ghana. While in Ghana, I was committed to being as "present" as possible. Like an ice cream cone on a summer day, if you look away for even a moment, drops of sweetness may escape you. And that was something I could not afford. My heart aches for Ghana even as I type now...the people....their voices...the love... I know I'm immensely blessed to have such a loving family. Here are a few snapshots from my trip!

  

  


   

  

Overcoming Insecurity


I believe many of us want to be part of an adventure. We want to have that "go-to" crowd pleaser story that we can boast about! An adventure that we had the guts to brave and a time when we surprised ourselves.

In my life, I love seeing amazing things happen. Things that just reaffirm the good in life and the goodness of God. However, if I'm honest, I simultaneously ask God to keep me out of any situation in which a miracle would actually be required. (lol don't judge me) 

There may be a teeny tiny itsy bitsy bit of a control freak deep down in my heart. 

Convinced? Yeah me neither lol. I hate when I'm in situations where even my best efforts can't fully "fix" it. I don't need to have all the answers all the time, but when things seem to be going awry, I DO want to be able to resolve them. However, the reality is, sometimes we can't fix things or undo what has already happened. And for me, this can lead to insecurity.

According to our buddy Webster, insecurity means deficient in assurance; beset by fear & anxiety; not firmly fastened or fixed. 

I promise I'm not being facetious in inserting a definition but it helps me to look up the meanings of words to aid a deeper understanding. As I read this, I thought "wow! I know I've felt some of these emotions before." 

And can I be even more transparent? I felt some of it as I thought about whether or not to write this blog post. 

We Should All Be Feminists

Click cover page for Goodreads summary


Feminismthe belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

I can't recall the first time I heard the word feminism. However, I remember sensing it was laced with negativity. As I got older, I realized that, to some, being a feminist had somehow become synonymous with hating men.

*Pause


In what dictionary!? lol 

5 Tips To Start a Book Club





 A story is always better if you have someone to share it with. 


This year my book club, Cover2Cover, turned 1 year old!  To celebrate, it was only right that we all wear ONESIES for our one year ;-) lol 

Our uber cute invitation lol
We had a blast! And as we continue to grow and indulge in more reads, I thought I'd share a few tips on how to start and maintain a successful book club.

Do You Lend Out Your Books?


A good friend of mine (Hi Wesley!) and I were talking recently about our love of books. He can always be found with a book, or two, under his arm and a new book recommendation on his heels. As I looked over one of his most recent objects of affection, I noticed a certain possessiveness in his eyes lol 

Dramatized version of what took place lol 
Me: What's up Wesley?

Him: Nothing. Just looking.

Me: *book in hand* This looks like a good read. 
Let me know when you're done so I can borrow it.

Him: Let you what!?!

Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White

* I was sent this novel by the author for an honest review. Click cover page for summary and purchasing.*




What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone? 



On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing: 


The king is dead. 

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old. 

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means? 

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.


Teacher Chronicles: Last Day of School!






I can't believe the school year is over! It's crazy how the school year has flown by! When I first began teaching, I had no idea I'd enjoy it as much as I am. I started off teaching 1st grade for two years, then did Kindergarten, then first grade again and now I'm looping up with my scholars to teach 2nd grade! As a teacher, I get entry to a free comedy show DAILY lol and honestly, it keeps me young(er) lol 


I feel so fortunate to have a job I love waking up to go to. 



Here are a few snapshots of the amaaaazing year I had with the best scholars ever ;) 

Book Review: Everything, Everything





Publisher's description: This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.




This novel has been on my TBR list for quite some time and I made a goal to dive in during the Bout of Books readathon I participated in last week. Although I've seen this book as a fan favorite, I made it a point NOT to read any reviews on it because I wanted to experience it authentically for myself. I was a bit nervous reading it because so many people loved it and there was always that chance I'd think it was a total flop. 


And alas... Everything, Everything proved to be... 

Bout of Books 2016 Updates!



So what exactly is Bout of Books? 
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team



Goals:
  • read 4 books 
  • read for at least 2 hours every day (120 minutes) 
  • participate in at least one Twitter chat
  • ENJOY everything I am reading!! No forcing myself to read something I am not excited about


In my original Bout of Books post, I listed a few books as my TBR crew BUT I tend to be a mood reader so it's changed a bit. I realized I haven't treated my unread library fairly so I'm going to tackle a few of those reads instead! :) 

Here's what I plan to read this week:


   



  


Stack Your Shelves WITHOUT Breaking the Bank ;)




If you're anything like me, you've had to put yourself on a book buying ban...once or twice or monthly lol 

I literally spend money I don't have on books I probably don't NEED to buy...at that moment. However, I don't feel books should be a luxury we need to do without. So I figured I'd share a list of places you can get books for READ-iculously cheap or FREE ;-)

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon!



"Who likes reading? Jenn likes reading? Is it true? It's true. I do, I do, I do-ooh!" (if you don't know where that's from, you're too young lol) 

So what exactly is Bout of Books? 

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I'm so excited to be joining Bout of Books for the first time! I attempted to do Dewey's 24 hour readathon and everything that could have gone wrong went wrong that day. So needless to say my 24 hour reading party was more like 6 hours. Maybe next time lol 

The "low pressure" part of this is what drew me in. I look forward to seeing how many books I can dive into. I'll definitely be using these tips to manage my time wisely :) 


So what exactly do I plan to read during this week? I'm so glad you asked lol 

Weigh In: Fiction VS. Non-Fiction


I recently hosted a poll on Twitter  asking my followers which they prefer: fiction or nonfiction. Little did I know, there would be such an obvious fan favorite!

So which has stolen the hearts of its readers?

WWW Wednesday: 4. 20. 16



This awesome weekly book meme is brought to us by Sam Ann Elizabeth at Taking on a World of Words

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Let's Get To It :) 

**********************

When Life Hands You Lemons, Throw It Back & Demand Chocolate ;)



Heheh :) Well maybe not throw the lemons, but you catch my drift. Life hands us random things all of the time. It can be so frustrating when you've taken the time to actually plan something and then have to watch it all fall to bits. The worst feeling...gah! BUT I'm currently learning to make the most of every situation and seek a lesson in all circumstances.

Boss Books for the Girl Boss in All of Us



Is a caption even needed? Didn't think so lol

I love being a woman! Seriously. I love being able to be strong and soft. Beautiful and sassy. Classic and trendy. Fearless and vulnerable. I feel powerful in my femininity and I seriously believe there's a crown hovering over the head of every woman waiting to be taken a hold of. Yep, it's that deep to me lol 

Seeing women strive for adventure, equality, entrepreneurship and education ignites something in me. So it was only natural that I want to spend all my coins on books that speak to the boss chick in all of us ;-) 

Children's Books that Still Make My Tummy Smile


Besides the fact that I believe "Matilda" was somehow loosely made for me (love for books, Miss Honey's name is Jennifer and she's a teacher...c'mon, it's painfully obvious guys lol), I've loved books for as long as I can remember. The magic of some books have followed me over the years ;-)

Book Review: Me Before You




"I had 117 days in which to convince Will Traynor that he had a reason to live." 

If you haven't seen this book floating around the bookosphere, you must have been taking a hiatus from social media. Me Before You is probably featured on every bookstagrammers IG page and is set to hit theaters in June. So what are my thoughts? Is it worth all the hype?

Spring Break TBR! Oh Yeah!


My spring break has officially begun! *throws confetti in the air* This break is more than necessary and I am so excited to do..... NOTHING. My students were all like "Awww I'm going to miss you" and "I don't want to be out of school." Meanwhile, when that clock hit 4:15, my tires were already screeching out of the lot lol 

Don't get me wrong, I adore my students but there are just SO many things I've been wanting to do and that I just haven't had the time for. And one of those things is catching up on reading! Granted I know that I am not going to be able to finish every book on my TBR list in a week, but a girl can dream. 

Sidenote: It's day 1 of Spring Break and where did I find myself this morning? You guessed it. In a bookstore *Kanye shrug* lol 


Here are a few books I plan on being unapologetically debaucherous about :) 

Book Review: The Wait




Wait? Until marriage? Huh?! In a society fueled by sex, is this even possible anymore? And even if it is, do we want any part of it?

Community Over Competition



"It's a dog eat dog world." 
"Like crabs in a barrel." 
"Every man for himself." 
These are just a few of the quotes I remember hearing growing up when the topic of  competition came up. Although a novice blogger, I've already seen the fangs of competition try to seep themselves into the egos of many. 

But do we have to let it?

3 Tips to Help You Read Faster


Since starting my blog, several of my friends have asked me how I'm able to breeze through books fairly quickly. I hadn't ever really thought about it until they began asking. So I thought to make a list of things that help me read quickly without forfeiting comprehension.

3 Books That Changed My Life


There are books I read for entertainment. Books I read as a free ticket to places I've never been. Books I read for a good laugh. Books that leave me googly eyed for the charming beau. 

And then there are books I read that completely bulldoze my heart and transform me irrevocably. 

How to Stay Motivated When Your Blog Feels Invisible




With blogging being such a growing community, it can seem impossible to keep up with the more popular blogs. You see their awesome posts, great flat lay photography (seriously they're perfect! lol) and the bumper to bumper traffic to their page. You may think to yourself "what's the point?" 

WOW: Word of the Week



“A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one's vocabulary and the greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one's thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.” - Henry Hazlitt

In continuing with sharing my love of words, this week's word of the week is ......

Why do Some Ideas Stick & Others Die ?








We are in a world where mottos like "Follow your dreams" spearhead our ambitions. I doubt there's ever been a generation that shapes their lives on dreaming out loud as much as those of the 20th & 21st century. However, with so many people compelled to start their own businesses and launch their own initiatives, the question becomes: How do I make my idea stand out and stick?

Too busy to read? Try these tips



"I don't have time to read." 

I can't count the number of times I've uttered these words. The days of lounging around for hours between classes, days at the pool and long road trips are all but gone. Memories of book swaps, devouring one text after another and hours spent at the library are nostalgic at best.

But does it have to be?

Book Review: Letter to my Daughter



“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.”
–from Letter to My Daughter

With eloquence, prose and acerbic wit, Maya Angelou lures you in with this collection of poems, short essays and musings reminding us again why America has revered her as one of its best.

WOW: Word of the Week


“A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one's vocabulary and the greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one's thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.” - Henry Hazlitt

Jenn's Jots: Books vs. eBooks



Man oh man. This is a topic that has caused quite a debate amongst literature lovers around the world. "To swipe or not to swipe? That is the question." (mentally high fives Hamlet lol) 

Technology literally shapes our world. Seriously, have you ever been in a power outage? How crippled did you feel? Exactly. But is there a line in the sand when it comes to the ease technology offers us?