Erin's Challenge 6.0- One Month to Go


The challenge ends next month, so figured it was a good time for a monthly check-in. I honestly didn't think I would finish, since my library did not cooperate with some of the books I wanted...and I read a bunch of other stuff that wasn't originally on the list. But some of those ended up fitting well and replacing some original items...so I think I will make it! And I'll end up reading more things off my TBR rather than things I just had decided to add for the challenge, which is cool.

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

So, three of these came from The Lunar Chronicles...


How is everyone else doing?

Monthly Recommendations March 2017: Own Voices

Goodreads Group - Kayla Rayne - Trina

This month's topic is Own Voices. You can read this post or this article from the creator Corrine Duyvis of the phrase/hashtag to get some more details. But short version- it's books with characters who represent some type of minority group, written by an author who actually belongs to that minority group.

So a book written by an autistic person by a neuro-typical person would be diverse, but not Own Voices. A book written by an autistic person written by an autistic person would be both diverse and Own Voices.

This definition of diversity from the We Need Diverse Books website is the one I am working with- so I will be including things like abuse survivors/etc as a "social model of disability." 

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

OK, now that we've gotten all that on the table...on to the recommendations!

Some of these are older...so sorry, but they're all good reads.

Y'all, this book is soooo good. Like, will probably end up on my best of the year even though it's only March. It's a story that I think almost anyone would be able to relate to.  But for the context of today's topic: Brit Bennett is African-American, so that would be the minority aspect. 

I think the reason I loved this is the contemporary aspect of it. Too often when I've been given or heard about books about African-Americans, it was in a historical context. Which is important- but black people are not a only a part of our past. They are our neighbors and co-workers and more than just headlines in our current culture. That was refreshing- reading about people who were living in different communities but the same world, if that makes sense.

 
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt 
This book is a huge insight into poverty. Yes, it's decades ago and it's set in Ireland but the realities of desperation and poverty are universal and this will forever be worth reading.

Girl Meets God
This one is kind of cheating. The author has a Jewish father, and that lineage is based on maternity rather than paternity. However, that in itself is really interesting and examines the idea of belonging, community, family in the context of her religious journey.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

This is a story about a teenager who lives on a Native American reservation, and eventually decides to attend the "white" school off the reservation. Native American stories do not get nearly enough attention, and I appreciated this one.
Bastard out of Carolina
This is a super tough book to read, because it deals with sexual abuse. I actually listened to it through Audible, and the afterword from the author really shaped the way I looked at the story. She speaks about how she herself survived abuse and poverty, but wanted to show how families handle these and still manage to find joy in music, etc during these hard times. Highly recommend.

The Bell Jar
This seems to be one of the first books regarding mental health in the mainstream. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that parallels Plath's own experience with writing and depression. It's a little dark and twisty and beautiful.

Furiously Happy

This is also about mental health, but from a current time. Lawson is honest yet hopeful, and always always hilarious. Love her and pretty much everything she creates.

The Story of My Life

I found this randomly in my local used bookstore, and while the writing itself is amaeture the story is compelling. It follows a young girl who lived under siege and was dismembered as a child. Eventually she gets help and immigrates to the US. It's a up-close view of terror and immigration, and while it's an older story it's more relevant than ever. 

If you'd like to link up, please join the Goodreads group & share! 
Or, ya know, just leave a comment.

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: March 2017


It's SHOW US YOUR BOOKS DAY! Y'all know how it works by now- write about the books you've read this month, link-up with Jana/Steph, and visit your fellow readers!

PSA for anyone who has subscribed to my blog: I finally got a personal domain, so you may need to tweak that subscription...I think I have it set to reroute, but who knows. Official domain is http://www.pinespalmettos.com/

I really, really enjoyed this book. It's about a girl who converts from Judaism to Christianity. Reading about people who waffle with their faith has always felt more realistic and sincere than people who have it all figured out. I really appreciated the parallels she drew between Jewish and Christian holidays and traditions- it makes me want to dig deeper in the history of my faith.


This was bittersweet...I loved this series, but the story was good. It wrapped up well. Winter & Jacin weren't my favorite couple, but it provided good insight into the culture on Luna under Levana's reign (reading Fairest first was helpful also). I liked the way the revolution happened, although I felt like the showdown between Cinder & Levana could have been a little...more. But overall a good ending.


This is sort of a prolonged epilogue and also a prequel for The Lunar Chronicles. I really enjoyed the picture it painted, and since it ends centered around Scarlet & Wolf I was super pumped- they are by far my favorite couple form the series. There was one story that, from what I can tell, didn't tie into the Lunar Chronicles at all...but the rest of them were super fun peaks into the characters I've grown to love. The relationship between Kai & Cinder seemed stiff to me, but worked out eventually.


This was an ebook deal from Goodreads or Book Riot's daily deals. I purchased it to go with Erin's Challenge, as a book set in my state. This book was somewhat slow going at first, but eventually picked up. The characters were all interesting, and I like how events were hinted at and then spoken of afterward, rather than specifically described firsthand. It was easy to get caught up in the rumors and hear-say, and added to the mythic quality of the story while making you feel like a part of the community watching this legand be born. Also, Serena may be one of the best female villains I have ever read. She is feminine and strong, mysterious and ruthless. She inspires respect, fear, and loyalty. There are mentions of tragedy in her past, but she never feels broken, which is often the case with villains in general but specifically female villains. Rather than paint her as damaged, she is written to simply be vile, and I loved it.

This book does not necessarily provide new information for getting your sh*t together. But, Knight has a great conversational style and uses some fun cuss words that may help you actually realize the truth of it and make a change. Worthwhile, but not quite as good as her first book IMO.



What have you been reading lately? 
Link-up with us & share!

Life According to Steph

Why I'm Not Surprised or Offended by Non-Christians



Lately I've been noticing a trend. It's been going on for years- or at least, I started noticing it years ago, but it seems to have gotten worse lately.

That sentence applies to a lot of things, actually.

But specifically, this is about the fact that Christians keep getting offended or surprised when people act in non-Christlike/Biblical ways.

Y'all. I don't know what Bible you are reading. But today's world is just a different kind of sinful. People didn't have iPads or know who the Kardashians were in Moses' day and they still ended up worshiping a gold statute.

People inherently suck. That's basically the point of Christianity- humans are awful and need a perfect Savior.

So then WHY do Christians act like it is a surprise when NON-CHRISTIANS do not act in a Christ-like manner?

That is exactly what the Bible tells us is going to happen.

No, the world is not perfect. Yes, you have to witness non-Christians thing. Yes, your children have to witness non-Christian things. Because this is not HEAVEN. This is Earth, and it's full of people who suck.

Non-Christians, please don't think I am saying you are terrible people. I mean, I kind of am, but my point is that ALL people are flawed. There are plenty of terrible people who claim (and probably even are) Christians, but that's a whole other subject. I'm trying to start with the basics here.

I'm just pointing out that if you are worried about policing behavior...you are going to have your hands full, Christians.

It is illogical to expect people who are not Christians to adhere to Christian beliefs. 

The laws of Amsterdam mean nothing here in America. And the laws of Christianity mean nothing to those outside the faith. Stop acting like it's a shock and offense when it's common friggin' sense.

Also, why do Christians refuse to go into explanations? You can say "pre-marital sex is wrong" and call people trashy and get all the Christian brownie points you want. But unless you explain why, you just sound like an arrogant jerk.*

*my perspective- within Christianity sex is considered very intimate and personal and holy- to do that outside of marriage or with multiple people is to endanger your spirituality...it's like eating a dozen doughnuts every day...you can, but it's not good for you, and even from a secular perspective you have to admit sex can be emotionally and physically risky

And you can refuse to join an organization that also allow LGBT+ members, but guess what? You have a 0% chance of ever sharing Christ with someone you refuse to be around.

I am not surprised or offended when people outside of my faith act with disregard to my faith.

What bothers me is when Christians somehow think they are above everyone else and the entire world- literally- should act the way THEY BELIEVE. 

Read your Bible. The freakin' superhero of our faith was murdered.

Almost every story in the Bible involves Christians being treated like crap. We are almost never the victors- at least not immediately.

You want to know why we don't see miracles the way we used to? Because we don't give the Lord the opportunity to do them.

If someone tried to throw a Christian into a lion's den today, there would be millions of dollars thrown together and pro-American speeches made and they would never even hear a lion's roar.

Get down off your freakin' high horse and go take care of some widows and orphans, or at least stop looking so smug while you eat your damn "straight people only" Chik-fil-a.

Practicing Self-Care: The Brittany Way

 

There has been a LOT of talk about self-care in the past few months.

You know why?

Because it's really, really flippin' important.

For me, there are two parts to helping myself live life in a positive manner.


Step one involves doing things:

  • Working out. It's good for me both physically and mentally and I need to make it a priority.
  • Paint my freakin' toenails. It's a small thing that I somehow haven't made time for recently and somehow having cracked polish on my toenails makes me feel like my entire life is just a mess.
  • Reading my Bible. I've been working on reading the entire Bible, front to back, for almost 3 years. I'm within 100 pages of finishing it (although for some reason, Revelation kind of terrifies me).
  • Plan my workout outfits for the week. This makes my mornings so much easier and just takes away the rushing around.
    • Ditto for the baby.
  • Spending time with friends. I don't do this NEARLY enough. I need it.
  • Finding inspirational podcasts/books/etc.
  • Taking time to stop and play with my LO and making her giggle.

Step two involves letting shit go:

  •  Letting go the fact that my family member tells me I'm "doing it wrong" when it comes to parenting.
  • The fact that their is dirt on my floor...I have dogs and a kid and I was never Mrs. Clean anyway.
  • The idea that I have to be Miss Homemaker- the dinner, the cleanliness, the happy child, the content husband- at least all the time at the same time.
  • The idea that my kid cries because she is mad at me.
  • The idea that my kid cries because I work (she is very good at daycare/with family members I'm told).
  • The idea that if I was a GOOD mother (which has been described in completely different ways) my kid wouldn't cry ever.
  • Basically ALL THE SHIT people tell me regarding how to interact with my child because...my kid is not perfect and neither am I but we need to work together- not with YOU possibly well-meaning but incredibly incredibly rude and disheartening person. 
  • The fact that sometimes people at work just...don't get me.
  • The reality that while I love my friends, and I need them, they are imperfect.
  • The idea that I should be okay, all the time. I feel like I am normally a pretty strong person. I've spent a LOT of my time being strong for other people. And...it sucks that they mainly aren't okay with me being weak right now. 
  • The idea that my feelings should be respected by my family. Is it the ideal? Yes. Is it my personal reality? Eh, I can do it but it only invites trouble and makes me feel way worse. So it would be more helpful to give it up. 

 What does self-care look like for you?

Add It To My List: February 2017


Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?
 Lots of people did make-up/beauty recommendations last month...um yeah, y'all won't be getting that from me. Hope you're into podcasts and YouTube videos and articles.

Podcasts:
  • Relevant Podcast: Ira Glass & Andy Mineo
    • Interesting discussion from Ira Glass (an atheist) about how Christians are often so misconstrued in the media
    • Also, you get to hear a Christian rapper talk about being inspired by Eminem
  • Girl's Girls Podcast
    • Someone shared this last month in the first link-up, and I'm so glad because it is hilarious! Had to share again NSFW, so use your headphones kthxbye.  
  • Bad Christian Podcast: Ben Sledge of Heart Support
    •  So these guys are controversial on both sides, but this was a really open conversation with a veteran and I appreciate that aspect. Even if you aren't Christian (or any other religion), I encourage you to give it a listen. Mainly it's just a worthwhile discussion that civilians as a whole (99.5 % of the population) rarely participate in or even listen to.
TV Shows
  •  Santa Clarita Diet
    • Fun new Netflix show, some zombie-ish but funny more than scary (a little gross at times, but not too bad). Binged it and it was adorable, and Drew Barrymore is super cute in it.
  • Switched at Birth
    • So I've heard a lot about this show, but for some reason always think ABC/FreeForm shows are lame or cheesy. But y'all, I'm so into it. OMG. I can't even imagine, and I think it does a good show of tackling all the different viewpoints. And it's really cool to see such a big focus on the deaf community (which I'm not a part of in any way, but I appreciate the insight). I'm hoping that since so much of the cast is deaf/hard of hearing that they have input and the representation is realistic.
      • Also...Emmett & Bay? SHIPPING HARD, Y'ALL.

Song:
  •  Love Triangle by RaeLynn 
    • for some reason, Blogger will not upload the "official" video but here is the lyrics one. This song is just so sweet and tells such a compelling story...it's an example of country music at it's best, IMO.




Reasons I Don't Work Out

Here's a compilation of all the reasons I haven't worked out in months:

  • The gym is too expensive...or the affordable ones don't have childcare
  • We can't stick to a schedule of when Hubs works out vs when I work out
    • mainly due to the fact that our work schedules are very different so we can't really be "fair"
  • It's too cold outside to do the free running
  • It's too wet outside to do the free local outside fitness group
  • I don't have time to go work out, then come back and get ready for work
  • The traffic in this town is insane and if I pay for the gym, I also have to fight traffic and by the time I do that plus workout my kid will be asleep when I get home so then I'll feel like a bad mom
  • My SAHM friends don't want to get up early to workout with me before work
  • My working mom friends don't have time to workout in the morning because they have to go do the daycare drop-off




What's your excuse?
(doesn't have to be for exercise, whatever you want to complain about)