5 Books that will trigger all of your emotions

I am not a huge reader of romance novels...but recently, I've stumbled upon a handful of wonderful books that are emotionally charged without being a traditional "romance". Each one of these stories has triggered emotions in me in a different way, and I still think about them after reading them weeks ago. 

Here are my top 5 non-traditional "romance" books:

1. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center - If I'm being honest, I judged this book by it's cover immediately. It's gorgeous, and I assumed that the story would be great as well. What I didn't expect was how much I would love this lighter, but yet still emotional spin on a very serious topic. 

How to Walk Away: A Novel
By Katherine Center

2. The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen - I flew through this book in 24 hours, reading every moment I could sneak in. Josie discovers a shocking secret about her marriage to Frank - which makes for an emotionally charged, yet simple story - and I think that's what made it feel so real to me. 

The Ever After: A Novel
By Sarah Pekkanen

3. Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith - This is another book that takes on a very serious issue - the shooting of a police officer - and puts a spin on it that was impossible for me to put down. This book sparked many emotions in me, and I still think about it weeks after reading.

Whiskey & Ribbons: A Novel
By Leesa Cross-Smith

4. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid - I think it's official that I love everything written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It started with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and although this and her other books are a bit different, they suck me in and give me all the feels. I read this book while I was home alone for the weekend, sitting in my living room and ugly crying at least 3 different times. For me, that's a sure sign of a great book! ;)

One True Loves: A Novel
By Taylor Jenkins Reid

5. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - This is the first book I've read by Hoover, and I'm sure it won't be the last. This story has a bit more of a traditional "romance" feeling to it, but in the best way. I love how light, fun and quirky this book is. 

It Ends with Us: A Novel
By Colleen Hoover

Have you read any of these books? What is your favorite? I'd love to hear! 

Thanks for reading!

Pam

5 Book Club Questions to spark a great discussion

If you're a book lover like me, it's usually pretty easy to find other people who love to read..especially on social media. It's also pretty easy - almost too easy - to find amazing books to read.  

What I've found is that it's not always as easy to have a great discussion about books in a group unless we've got a few questions to spark discussion. I've put together 5 general questions that you can post in your own book club or ask a friend who you are reading with. 

The nice thing about these questions is that they apply to almost any book, and are generally opinion-based, so you should be able to have a great conversation.

If you'd like a downloadable and printable version of these questions to use, you can download it here. 

Book club discussion questions and journal pages-01.jpg

I'd love to hear what you are currently reading and what you thought of it in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Pam

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

Our October book club pick was The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I have read a few of her books, and have loved all of them. This is a short, quick read - and quite a change from Lilac Girls, our book for September. 

Here is a little more about this empowering book from the publisher:

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, "What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?"

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging."

This book was so inspiring for me.  I hope after reading it, you will feel the same confidence boost and sense of empowerment.

If you have read this book, or would like to contribute to our discussion, fill out the form below to join our group! 

 

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Take the Reading Challenge!

Confession: I have a problem... I have tons of books on my bookshelf that I've never read. It's not because I don't want to - it's usually because my "to read" list is so long, that I can't get to all of them as quickly as I'd like to. ;)

If this sounds familiar to you, I invite you to take the Reading Challenge! I am starting this challenge so that each month, I am reading a new book from the list. If you are looking for new ideas, here are a few for you to choose from! 

Screenshot or Pin the graphic below to save for your reference when you need new ideas - and I'd love to hear from you in the comments below if you'd like to participate! What are some of your favorite books?

Thanks for reading,

Pam

reading challenge

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5 Best Books to Read With Your Book Club

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Do you love to read? Are you part of a book club, or do you like to read on your own?

Here is a small list of 5 of my favorite books to read with a book club.

I have always loved reading, and now that I am a stay at home / work from home mom of 2 kids, reading has become an important part of my ‘self-care’. Just like I make time for exercise and my own physical health, I also need to make time to read regularly.

At night, it’s my time to unwind – after a full day with the kids, it’s my favorite way to relax and clear my head. In the morning, it’s a great way to start my day and take some time to wake up and start my day on a positive note.

Let’s be real – some days I can read for 30 minutes or more, and other days, I’m lucky if I get 10 minutes or 10 pages in. Sometimes life gets crazy, or I’m just so tired at night that I’d rather sleep than fall asleep with a book in my lap. ;)

One thing I know for sure is that I feel my best when I make time for reading. I was part of a small book discussion group for a few years before we had kids, and now I run a small Facebook book discussion with friends and family.

Here are 5 of my favorite books that we’ve read, and a few that I’ve read on my own. All of these books have great topics that your group would enjoy discussing.

 

1.     Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – Our online book club read this a few years ago, and I loved it!  I instantly found myself caught up in the unique love story of Will, who is wheelchair bound, and Louisa, his caregiver. Their story will make you think about your own morals long after you have finished reading the book. This is also a popular movie – have you seen it?

2. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult – I read this book quite a few years ago, when it was new. It tells the story of a small town devastated by a high school shooting. What I found interesting was the story of the shooter’s past – something you don’t normally read or hear about. I still remember the ending of this book, years after reading it.

3. Still Alice by Lisa Genova -  This is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Genova, but it definitely won’t be the last. Still Alice tells the story of Alice, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. What I found most interesting about this book is how it is told from Alice’s own perspective. Oftentimes, we hear from those living with someone who has the disease, but rarely do we get in the head of someone directly affected by it.

Still Alice
By Lisa Genova

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – This is another book I read quite a few years ago, when it first came out. Set in Mississippi in the 1960s, it also tells a unique story from the perspective of Aibileen, and ultimately many other women who are known as the “help” to wealthy families.    

The Help
By Kathryn Stockett

5. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – This book was part escapist and part ‘can’t put it down until I find out what the husband’s secret is…’. This was the first book I’ve read by Liane Moriarty, and I was hooked. I would keep it next to my living room chair and read while my daughter was sleeping or while I was nursing. It was the perfect juicy story that touched on different marital and family issues. and I couldn’t wait to pick it up to read more. Next on my list is What Alice Forgot.

The Husband's Secret
By Liane Moriarty

Again, these are just a few of my favorites. Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear about them!

Happy reading!

Pam

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6 Books to Boost Your Confidence and Build Self-Esteem

Here are 6 of my favorite books for building more confidence and self-esteem. They have been just as helpful to my health and fitness as they have been to my mind.  

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“The hard part isn’t getting your body in shape. The hard part is getting your mind in shape.” (Author Unknown) 

It’s a pretty scary thing to take on a new fitness or nutrition plan, especially when you are just starting. It’s really easy to let self-doubt creep in and rule your mind, telling you you’re not ready for this, that you can’t do it, or that it will just be too dang hard.

I know this because I’ve had similar thoughts myself. When I first started clean eating, I stood in my kitchen feeling completely overwhelmed. I thought to myself more than once, “what am I doing this for? What’s the point? I won’t be able to eat anything.”

Get your mind in shape before getting your body in shape.  

What helped me the most during this experience was filling my mind with positivity from books.  It didn’t matter what shape my body was in – what mattered more was what shape my mind was in. My brain needed to be trained just like any other muscle in my body, because that was going to keep me going every day.  A strong mindset was going to help me get started, and then keep me from quitting.  

 

Fill Your Mind with Positivity from Books!

Here’s the truth…At first, I thought this whole thing was cheesy, and just for people who really had ‘problems’. But…it didn’t take long to realize that I was starting to soak up the empowerment and confidence from the books I was reading every day. Just 10 pages of a book – every day – was enough to retrain my brain to think more positively and improve my confidence. I started to realize I CAN do these things that seem impossible.

My biggest piece of advice is to go into this with an open mind – I’m going to suggest some of my favorite books below. I encourage you to give them a try and find what works for you. If you love reading, start with a book that looks good to you. If you hate reading, look for a good podcast to listen to while you are driving or at night before you go to bed. Stay consistent – read or listen for 10 minutes in the morning or at night, and you’ll be amazed at how your outlook starts to change.    

 

Here are some of my favorite books:

1.          You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (because you know you are! ;) - This is the first personal growth book I read, and it was the perfect pick because it made me realize that whatever I believe in my mind will become my reality.

2.          I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones - This book shares experiences from different women in different businesses who tell their stories of how their lives have grown through struggle.

3.          The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – While reading this, it became clear to me that no one is perfect, and that what makes us great is embracing our imperfections and letting them help us, rather than hurt us.

4.          Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – I am in the middle of reading this right now, and it has made me realize that allowing yourself to be vulnerable will actually lead you to being stronger.

5.          Failing Forward by John Maxwell – This book put an entirely new spin on the idea of “failure”. Failing isn’t a bad thing and it certainly doesn’t define you as “a failure.” Instead, see it as an opportunity for growth.

6.          The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – I loved this book, because it gave me an easy framework for starting my morning off on a positive note. If you are looking for a better way to start your day, this book is filled with great ideas!

These are just a handful of my favorites. I encourage you to check them out, and see what you relate to the most. If you’ve read any other favorites, please share them below! I would love to check them out.

Thanks for reading!

Pam

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Take the 30 Day Happiness Challenge!

How can you bring more happiness into your life? 

Join us in our first 30-Day Happiness Challenge! 

There are so many easy ways to increase your overall well-being. This challenge is really simple: read through the graphic below, choose one habit to focus on each day (it doesn't have to be in the order listed below) and write down each day what you choose. You don't have to do every item on the list - feel free to repeat what works for you! 

Maybe there are things you love to do that bring you happiness that are not on this graphic - that's great! Use this graphic as a way to brainstorm and form new habits that make you feel good, and see how you feel after 30 days. Comment below if you are joining the challenge! 

30 Day Happiness challenge

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Positive Energy - 5 Ways to Bring Positive Energy into Your Home

Energy is a powerful thing. You know that unspoken feeling you get when momentum shifts during a sporting event? That's energy. It can be amazing when positive energy is flowing, but really uncomfortable and awkward when negative energy is in the air. 

How can you bring more positive energy and happiness into your life?

Maybe you feel like you’ve been in a funk and don’t know how to “snap out of it.”

Maybe you are overwhelmed by work, family, or life in general.

Maybe you are just looking for some positivity in your life.

I was all of these things as a new stay-at-home mom. Life with a colicky newborn and a toddler was overwhelming, and I curled up into a ball of negative energy. It was affecting my whole family, and I didn’t know how to snap out if it.   

I’ve learned from experience that these feelings begin with you. It's a choice you make. 

You are responsible for the energy you bring into your life. If you sit and dwell on the negative things in your life, your life will be filled with negativity. If you focus on the positive things in life, your life will be filled with positivity.

The best part? Those feelings multiply. The more positivity you seek out, the more you will find. Those around you will feel your energy too, and feed off of it. I’ve learned this from experience.  

So, how do you start? What can you do today to bring more positive energy into your life? Here are 5 easy ways to find more happiness in your life:

 

1.    Make your happiness a priority in your mind. The first step for me was recognizing the value of myself and my happiness. Make a decision in your mind to put yourself at the top of your priority list again.

2.    Make a list of the hobbies or activities that you enjoy. Choose 1 or 2 from the list, and schedule time for those during the week. It doesn’t have to be a long time – even 30 minutes once or twice a week will make a difference. What can you sacrifice to make that time? TV? Mindless scrolling on social media? Make that time a priority.

3.    Schedule time just for yourself. Go for a walk outside, enjoy nature and the sunshine, take a relaxing bath, read a book with a warm cup of coffee, treat yourself to a shopping trip – anything that settles your mind and makes you feel good.

4.    Stretch, meditate or practice simple yoga before bed. This can be as short as 5 or 10 minutes before going to bed – it’s a great way to unwind, calm and relax your mind. It will also put you in a positive mindset for the next day. 

5.    Make your exercise and nutrition a priority. The connection between a healthy body and healthy mindset is really strong – if I am putting healthy food into my body and exercising regularly, it boosts my endorphins and makes me feel better overall.

 

The more you choose to focus on the positive things in your life, the happier you will feel. I’ve found that happiness and gratitude really is a practice – the easiest way to feel it is to look for things that make you happy.

 

How do you bring positive energy into your life? Comment below with your thoughts!      

motivational quote for life
yoga for relaxation
How to bring more happiness into your life

Historical Fiction - 5 Best Books to Read

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I’ve been a book nerd my whole life. As a kid, you could find me sitting outside in the backyard on a warm, summer day, reading in a lawn chair for hours. Sometimes, I would sit in the car and read my book while waiting for everyone else in our family to get ready to go somewhere.

Now that I am a stay-at-home and work-from-home mom to our 2 young kids, I don’t have as much time to read…but, I also realized early on as a mom that reading was part of who I was as a person. It was an outlet that helped me keep my sanity!

So, it was easy to make my favorite books a part of this blog. Starting this month, I will be featuring “Pam’s Virtual Book Club” – a collection of some of my favorite books.

This month features my favorite Historical Fiction books. This is one of my favorite genres – I love books that tell a fictional story about a serious and emotional time in history. All of these are specifically World War 11 books, because once I read one, I couldn’t get enough and sought out as many as I could. I would re-read all of these books if I didn’t have such a long list of new books waiting for me. ;)

Here are 5 of my favorites:

1.     The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult – Jodi is one of my favorite authors, and I started reading this book on my kindle one night, without knowing what it was about. Needless to say, I was pulled in immediately. It tells the story of a unique friendship between baker Sage Singer and retired teacher Josef Weber. The story transitions seamlessly between present day and World War 11.  Their relationship is woven together in a very powerful way, and even though I read this book a few years ago, I still think about it.

The Storyteller
By Jodi Picoult

2.     The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – I’ve read a handful of her books, and this was by far my favorite. It tells the story of two sisters during World War 11 France, whose paths turn in very different directions during the war.  This is one of those books that you can’t stop thinking about when you are done reading – the story is so well-written that I still have pictures of it in my head.

The Nightingale: A Novel
By Kristin Hannah

3.     Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – This book tells the story of Sarah, a 10-year-old girl who is arrested with her family in Paris during the war. It weaves together the story of Julia, a present-day journalist who is researching the time period and Sarah’s experience. There are a few specific passages from this book that are so vividly written, they will stick in my memory forever.

Sarah's Key
By Tatiana de Rosnay

4.     Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum – This is another story that weaves the past and present together with the story of Trudy, a history professor and her mother Anna. Anna’s powerful experience during World War 11 transitions from hiding her affair with a Jewish doctor, to an abusive affair with a Nazi officer.

Those Who Save Us
By Jenna Blum

5.     All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I am currently reading this book during the time of writing this, but I can add this to my list of favorites without question. Set in Paris and Germany, it tells the story of Marie-Laure, who goes blind at 6 years old, and leaves Paris after the Nazis take over the city. During the same time Werner, a German orphan, becomes skilled at fixing radios and eventually crosses paths with Marie-Laure. This is a beautifully and vividly written book about such a raw, emotional time in history.    

There are so many other wonderful books I could add to this list. Have you read any of these? Comment below with some of your favorites.

Happy reading!

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Great Books for Women!

This book is quickly becoming one of my favorites because it has made me more confident in my potential and abilities. If you've ever doubted yourself - and who hasn't, right? - then this book will help you realize your potential is limitless and that you can succeed at whatever you dream of. 

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