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#BringBackAWritersPurpose

5 Jul
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The original stage curtain (1909-1915) from the Nippon Kan Theatre in Seattle.

While my brother was in town for the 4th of July weekend, he made a joke about creating a #BringBackAWritersPurpose social media campaign. My blog about books, authors, adventures, and any other ideas that popped in my mind, has been dormant.

On New Years Eve (was that already seven months ago?!), my husband made a suggestion to read less, write more. Which if you’re a Hamilton fan, you’re reading this in Aaron Burr’s voice. It’s now well into the second half of 2017 and I’ve read 35 books while writing nothing (excluding work duties).

So, she’s back! Me, and A Writer’s Purpose! And we have quite a bit to catch up on. Of course, it all relates to books. So for the at least four family members who follow this, enjoy…

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Most recently, a group of gals from my book club spent an afternoon in Seattle to take a private book tour of Jamie Ford’s novels through the Wing Luke Museum. The tour took us to various historical locations in the International District that are included in the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost.

Bitter and Sweet is a story that takes place in Seattle during World War II. When Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps, many families stored their personal belongings underneath the Panama Hotel. Today, many of those belongings remain unclaimed underneath the hotel. The highlight of the tour was catching a glimpse of those possessions, along with eating lunch at the oldest Chinese restaurant in the city.

My local library’s annual literary event, Pierce County READS, selected author Mary Roach this year. The nonfiction writer takes complicated subjects and conducts extremely hands-on research to better understand and relay the subjects to her readers.

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This year, the entire county was encouraged to read Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. One of my very best friends Tami (we like to read and watch about 95 percent of the same things) and I attended the author event for an interesting Q and A with Roach. I have since added Stiff to my to-read list to learn more about human cadavers (thank you Tami for the book gift!).

Back in January, I joined my friends Tricia and Sarah for a early preview of the new PBS Masterpiece Classic, Victoria. Sarah and I did these special preview events during the Downton Abbey run, so it was a neat experience to see a new show before the rest of the land did.

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The first season of the show was great, and the trailer of season two looks promising. The show’s writer is also the author of the book of the same name, and is worth reading if you’re like me and obsessed with British royals.

Now, to flashback all the way to November: My BFF Melissa and I attended an Anna Kendrick author event to promote her then-new book, Scrappy Little Nobody. Kendrick is hilarious and it was a short but fun event. I laughed at least 10 times. I probably rank it second to the Rainn Wilson book event we attended a year previously.

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Whew! Now that you’re caught up on the last nine months of my literary life, I’m better set up to share with you books and adventures as they come.

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Catching up on the year before it’s over

26 Aug

It was January 1 and before I knew it, I blinked and I’m pinning pumpkin recipes to my I Heart Fall Pinterest board. Guys, it’s almost September!

The blog has suffered in 2016 due to life and I have so much to catch you up on: reading goal, books & adventures, and such as.

So, what have I been up to these last nine months?

1. 2016 Reading Goal: I set a goal to read 52 books this year, and to date I’m 71 percent there (thank you Goodreads for making it so easy to track!). Three book clubs and a book study through my church are helping to keep this goal within reach!

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2. Pierce County READS: One of my favorite times of the year is the Pierce County Library READS program, which encourages the county to all read the same book. This year’s author was Sherman Alexie and the library chose not one, but FIVE, of his books (which are part of my 2016 reading goal). To dig further, I also watched the film Smoke Signals and even tried Indian fry bread.

3. Books & Adventures: I put it out there a year ago that I would experience what I read by taking more adventures! I am seriously lagging in this, but I have an update! The husband and I did a recent hike to Sourdough Gap and I spotted a Pacific Crest Trail marker! Do you know what this means? I was pretty much Cheryl Strayed for a day on her Wild trek (exaggeration), but I did make the husband watch the film the following weekend (book is better).

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4. How Does She Do It?: The secret to my daily reading habit was included in Laura Vanderkam’s article for Fast Company. The CliffsNotes version: setting a goal helps to establish a routine that becomes a habit that will eventually just morph into your way of life. Alarm goes off, the dogs jump on me to prevent me from hitting snooze, and we’re off to coffee and our reading nook.

5. The Most Fun You’ll Have at a Cage Fight: If you haven’t read the debut novel by Rory Douglas, I highly recommend it. You’ll laugh out loud at least four times and you might even learn something new. I did an interview with Rory for NWbooklovers.org.

6. New job: One of the biggest news briefs for the year is that I got a job … with World Vision! For those who have been following this blog since 2012 (anyone?), I started this blog because of what was placed on my heart after attending The Justice Conference that year. I wanted to write for a purpose greater than box scores and community news, and four years later, here I am, a writer for World Vision!

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New job perk: working with my BFF.

Thank you for sticking with me until the end! I promise to not ignore you for another nine months before sharing with you what I’m reading, where I’m going and what I’m doing.

But before I go, I have 15 books left to read this year, any suggestions on what I should include on my to-read list?

Happy reading, folks!

My 2015 in Books

1 Jan
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My 2015 book list included many genres.

What kind of bookish goals do you set? Read more non-fiction? Read more in general? Join a book club?

I started 2015 with the goal to read 45 books. And guess what, folks! I (just barely) did it! So I’m celebrating with a look back at the books that marked my year.

As part of a leadership group in my church, one book a month was leadership/personal growth related. Everything else was personal interest related.

When I wasn’t busy reading, I was out on bookish adventures, experiencing what was on the page. Book events, author events, book clubs and book crafts made this last year one for the books (pun intended)!

Before I set off for my goal of 52 books for 2016, here’s a recap of 2015:

  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  2. The Grand Paradox by Ken Wytsma
  3. The Truth about Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
  4. Snobs by Julian Fellowes
  5. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  6. The Look of Love by Sarah Jio
  7. Desire by John Eldredge
  8. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  9. The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
  10. Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  11. GI Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi
  12. Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway
  13. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  14. The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley
  15. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud
  16. At the Waters Edge by Sara Gruen
  17. Palisades Park by Alan Brennert
  18. Summer’s List by Anita Higman
  19. Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley
  20. The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
  21. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
  22. A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley
  23. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny
  24. Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
  25. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  26. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam
  27. Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin
  28. The Life Changing Magic of Cleaning Up by Marie Kondo
  29. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
  30. The Dream Releasers by Wayne Cordeiro
  31. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman
  32. Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann
  33. The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
  34. The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero and Leighton Ford
  35. Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner
  36. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
  37. See Me by Nicholas Sparks
  38. Prayer – Does it Make any Difference? by Philip Yancey
  39. The Most Fun You’ll Have at a Cage Fight by Rory Douglas
  40. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
  41. The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson
  42. The All-Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
  43. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  44. Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
  45. Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

Any suggestions/recommendations for books to add to my 2016 list? Please share!

Books and Adventures: The Cherry Harvest

11 Nov

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I received an email from HarperCollins Publishers this summer announcing the publication of The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna. More often than not these email press releases speak right to my literary heart, as was the case with this novel.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know World War II is one of my favorite subjects to read of the historical fiction genre. My friends are no longer surprised (or interested I’m starting to think) when they ask me what I’m reading and I respond with “A book set during World War II…”

Usually these books take place overseas, but Sanna tells a war-era story from a different perspective.

The Cherry Harvest tells a story from the home front in a Wisconsin farm community where German POWs are put to work to assist with the harvest while all the local boys are off to fight.

The Christensen family welcomes the assistance of the POWs to help them with their cherry harvest with their son fighting in Europe, but it comes with a price. Secrets develop amid a forbidden romance…

My adventure:

Living on a cherry farm would definitely have its perks. More than once a fresh baked cherry pie was written into this story. I set out on a search for a locally-made cherry pie but I live in rhubarb pie country. Instead I did the next best thing: I baked!

I have never made a pie from scratch and I still haven’t, but thanks to this simple recipe I found on Pinterest, I made mini cherry pies. Unfortunately I chose to do this baking quest late on a weeknight and forgot to take a photo of the finished product. You’ll have to trust me they were delicious (a la mode of course).

Books and Adventures: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

20 Sep
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The tastiest book adventure to date: ice cream party!

My sweet friend Tami and I have similar literary tastes. She recently recommended The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman, because of its historical-fiction genre and also because it would make for a tasty adventure.

But first, about the book:

Spanning 70+ years, The Ice Cream Queen is the life story of a young Russian immigrant girl, Malka Treynovsky, who arrives in New York with her family in 1913. A Goodreads review stated this novel suffers from “Chick Lit Cover Syndrome.” And I have to agree. This 501-pager is most certainly not chick lit.

Malka’s life and rise to ice cream tycoon is linked to historical events: Ellis Island, child labor laws, prohibition, World War II, the polio epidemic, to name a few…

Malka eventually becomes Lillian Dunkle, and as she discovers her successful business model, eventually the ice cream queen. At times, it is difficult to love her because of her brash personality, but as you learn more of her story you start to sympathize.

Now, for the adventure:

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Ice Cream Social in Tacoma serves handcrafted ice cream made from natural and local ingredients.

Tami discovered Ice Cream Social, located on Tacoma’s eclectic 6th Ave. Sharing a block with a tattoo parlor and a hot dog joint/bar, Ice Cream Social had a steady stream of people in and out during our visit for their handcrafted ice cream made from natural and locally-sourced ingredients.

On the menu were unique flavors like peanut butter + jelly, lavender, ginger and pancake porter. With Tami’s family and me and my husband, we were able to sample a wide-range of the menu.

On our way to Ice Cream Social we drove through Tacoma’s Orchard Street, which was the ice cream on the cake for this adventure (see what I did there?).

Thank you Tami for sharing this adventure with me!

Blog Tour: Through Waters Deep

27 Aug
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Book one in the Waves of Freedom Series.

Sarah Sundin released her latest series this summer, and instead of following the B-17 pilots and flight nurses of World War II, Sundin takes to the seas in Through Waters Deep.

Set in early 1941, readers can expect a little Nancy Drew and a lot of Boston scenery.

Naval officer Jim Avery is reunited with former classmate Mary Stirling on shore. When evidence of sabotage on the USS Atwood is found, Jim and Mary form a special bond as they work together to help crack the case.

As always, Sundin writes in rich historical detail, putting you on a destroyer facing German U-boats and torpedoes, or on shore along cobblestone streets in Boston.

Photo evidence of Boston 2009.

Photo evidence of Boston 2009.

The scenery took me back to my first Boston trip in 2009, when I took an impromptu trip to the East Coast with my friend Gwen. We ate lobster chowder (chow-dah), took in a Celtics game, toured Fenway and soaked up all the history surrounding us.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for sending me a copy of this book!

Save the date! Book two, Anchor in the Storm, will release next summer!

Books and Adventures: The Bookseller

26 Aug
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My latest book adventure took me to King’s Books, the largest new and used independent bookstore in the Tacoma area.

If I could snap my fingers and have any profession I choose, I would own an independent bookstore. My store would be nestled in a coastal town (like a North Carolina scene imagined by Nicholas Sparks), or would be in a bustling downtown like The Shop Around the Corner made famous by Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.

Because of my bookstore fantasy, The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson instantly caught my eye. Set in Denver in 1962 and 1963, Kitty Miller is content with her spinster lifestyle. She owns a quaint bookstore with her lifelong best friend, and has a special bond with her parents.

But in Kitty’s dreams, she’s lives a life happily married and a mother to three kids.

In movie terms, think Inception meets The Family Man. This psychological thinker is a glimpse into what might have been, if life’s events had taken a different course.

My book adventure led me to King’s Books, the largest new and used independent bookstore in downtown Tacoma. With about 150,000 books housed in 5,500-square feet, I spent a recent afternoon aimlessly looking at a rows and rows and rows of books.

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Country Girl sighting!

I have to use this moment to give a shout to fellow Coug, Sarah Reijonen, author of Country Girl: Letting Love and Wanderlust Take the Reins. I was happy to spot the bright yellow cover in the Memoir section.

Books and Adventures: I Know How She Does It

10 Aug

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My reading list has branched out to different genres this year, and includes quite a bit of non-fiction. Through a women’s leadership group at my church, I have read books monthly pertaining to leadership and goal setting.

A self-discovery I made with my leadership group is my desire to advance to the next level in my career. This has led to a study of graduate school and accreditation options. It also pointed me in the direction to I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam.

This new release is a study of how successful, working women/moms manage their time in 30-minute increments. While the definition of success in this book is women who make more than $100,000 (not me, yet) and have at least one child under the age of 18 at home (still not me, yet), I was still able to take away many time management and schedule planning pointers.

Vanderkam studied the time logs of hundreds of successful professionals. Viewing a week as a 168-hour canvas as a full-time professional, leaves quite a bit of time that can lost to less meaningful things. Vanderkam’s findings encouraged me to evaluate my own time log, which Vanderkam provides on her website.

This is a great tool to use to evaluate how I spend my time at work (am I spending the majority of my time on the tasks that excite me the most about my job?), how I spend my leisure time (if I put my phone away during free time, what fun memories can be created?) and how my weekends are spent (are errands and chores pushing out valuable family time?).

Just today I heard someone talking about the challenge of raising a newborn while taking a class online. My mind immediately went to the lessons shared in this book. It’s all about time management, rearranging the tiles in your time log and using available resources to obtain what you desire.

Oh, and this pairs nicely with Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

What I’m Reading June 2015

10 Jul

July

I felt ambitious at the library last month and took home five books (still working on the final two). With a holiday weekend and staycation in July, I figured I would have some free time. And I think that free time has been spent very wisely, making sure I avoid library fines.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

I know very little about Niagara Falls. In fact, when I think of the Falls, I think of Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty and Pam and Jim in The Office.

This novel broadened my narrow horizon on the dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls starting in 1915. The author was born and raised in Niagara Falls and weaves the lore of William “Red” Hill, Niagara’s most famous riverman, in this work of historical fiction.

My task: Niagara Falls is quite a distance from me, so to experience the water, I plan to visit a local waterfall. Photo evidence to come soon, or it didn’t happen.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law picked this book for their book club and let me in on their secret (thanks, Emily!). I was a fan of Sullivan’s The Engagements, and was interested to see her other work.

All families have their drama, but nothing compares to the Kelleher family. The story is told through three generations, and more can be understood of their present day attitudes after learning of their past, but there’s so much dysfunction it’s hard to sympathize with anyone. It’s a fun beach read, or more like a vacation read because it’s a little on the long side. After wading through all the heartache and drama, I do have to say I was very pleased with its ending.

My task: To experience the New England food, I’m on the hunt for a lobster roll, Pacific Northwest style.

A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley

I was looking for something a little light to read around some heavy historical fiction, and my eyes were attracted to this cover.

Of World War II, one of the topics I could never tire of learning more about are the Japanese internment camps set up under Executive Order 9066. It’s crazy to think my family would have been interned had we been here during that time. My grandmother lived through the war in Japan.

I was hoping for light read, but this was anything but. The story is centered around a half-Japanese teen, who suffers more loss before the age of 20 than most anyone suffers in a lifetime.

About 350 pages in, hope is finally introduced! And it certainly ends well.

My task: I’m planning to attend the Asian American Journalist Association’s national convention in San Francisco next month with my dad!

Have Book, Will Travel (sort of)

5 Jul
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Standing next to a replica of the Husky Clipper.

I had a recent conversation with a fellow booklover, and ever since I have been thinking and re–thinking about how she described why she loves to read.

You can go anywhere without having to travel.

I favor the historical fiction genre because I love to learn about historical people and places through the author’s imagination. I can experience my favorite decades (1920s-50s) and favorite places (Europe and Asia) through interpretations, without having physically been there.

To better experience what I read, I’m stepping up my game. With every book I finish (non-fiction and fiction), I will take something from the story and create an experience, visit a new place, try something new, that I was introduced to in the story.

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The UW Conibear Shellhouse.

For example, after reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, my husband and I visited the UW Conibear Shellhouse, to physically place what I loved reading about. I was able to picture the scene set in the 1930s.

Often times stories I read take place further out than driving distance. I recently finished Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan and will follow up with a lobster roll to experience New England in the Pacific Northwest.

Each story will introduce me to an experience that will get my nose out of the book and into our world in a more tangible way. A subject featured on the Humans of New York Facebook page said, If you force yourself to go outside, something wonderful always happens.

It’s time to go outside and see what happens.